Expression of interest for a telecommunications research project: Communication Partner Participants


You are invited to participate in a research project investigating user perspectives on the usefulness of two methods of accessing telecommunications for people with Complex Communication Needs (CCN). The project has ethics approval from the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of South Australia.

This trial is part of my Honours research project at the University of South Australia. As an Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) user, I understand many of the challenges people with CCN face in accessing telecommunications. As a computer science graduate with experience in the telecommunications field, I have a broad perspective on both user and technical issues.

Speech-to-Speech Relay (SSR) was introduced to Australia in 2000 and has proved to be useful for many people in our community. However, SSR relies on people’s speech and does not take advantage of the many other communication modes people use for face-to-face communication, including gestures and facial expression.

With the advent of the Video Relay Service (VRS) for the Deaf currently being piloted by the Australian Communication Exchange, I am keen to explore whether the technology used for VRS could be utilised to provide a similar service to people with CCN to enable them to use multiple modes of communication when making telephone calls.

I am looking for two people willing to participate in a trial comparing Speech-to-Speech Relay (SSR) with Video-Assisted Speech-to-Speech Relay (VAS). The trial involves receiving between five and eight telephone calls from participants who have CCN over a period of approximately one month. A Relay Officer will be on the line to assist with communication breakdowns. Each call will take between 15 and 40 minutes. After each of these calls, you will be asked to complete an online survey about your experience. The survey is estimated to take no more than 5 minutes.

Please note, the study is not concerned with your ability to understand the callers. The Relay Officer will be there to assist you and help keep the conversation flowing.

All calls will be scheduled between 1:30 and 4:30 pm (Adelaide time) at times negotiated between the caller, the relay officer and you. The times of these calls will be arranged by email and I will coordinate the calls.

Do you meet the following criteria?:

(a) Do you have at least one year of experience in communicating with people with CCN?
(b) Do you feel you have the ability to engage in conversation with people with CCN?
(c) Do you feel confident in communicating with people with CCN by telephone?
(d) Do you feel empathy and understanding of people with disabilities?

If you answered Yes to the above questions or if you are unsure about some of the questions but are keen to take part please contact me at as soon as possible including a brief paragraph about your experience in communicating with people with CCN. As part of the selection process, I would like to arrange to speak with you via telephone. The telephone calls for the trial will occur in June 2010.

Please note that if you are a speech pathologist or allied health assistant in speech pathology, you are not eligible to participate in the study.

I hope you can be part of this exciting research project into access to telecommunications for people with CCN.


Darryl Sellwood BCIS

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