All of our talks, seminars and other events held by Health Sciences School are open to students, staff and the public with no need to book.

Seminar in Health Communication Sciences

Department of Ophthalmology & Orthoptics

Forthcoming events

Thursday 26th March 2020

Title: Optimal Perimetric Testing in Children (OPTIC)

Speaker: Dr Dipesh Patel           

Venue: Medical School Lecture Theatre 2

Time: 12.00pm - 1.30pm

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Dipesh Patel graduated in Orthoptics from the University of Sheffield in 2008. He started working clinically in Bath and completed the University of Sheffield PGDip in Vision and Strabismus before moving to London to work as a Research Assistant. He completed a PhD in Ophthalmic Epidemiology as part of a multi-disciplinary team at UCL Institute of Child Health. After completing his PhD, Dipesh returned to clinical practice, and was awarded a HEE/NCEL Fellowship and CLAHRC Fellowship whilst at Moorfields Eye Hospital. He is now an NIHR Advanced Fellow/Honorary Clinical Research Fellow (Orthoptics) at UCL GOS Institute of Child Health and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

His talk is largely based on his PhD research, and is entitled:
“Study of Optimal Perimetric Testing in Children (OPTIC) and the clinical academic Orthoptic career pathway”

Dipesh will discuss the research pathway, outcomes from a collaborative programme of research on visual field testing in children with glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmic disease, and opportunities for developing a clinical academic Orthoptic career.

Aisha QureshiFinal Year Student Orthoptist: Global Engagement – Orthoptics in Dubai
Aisha will describe the application and outcome of her successful UoS Global Engagement Award.

Sara Kousha – 2nd Year Student Orthoptist: Employment opportunity – What’s the REF?
During her first year of study, Sara gained part-time employment as an Impact Evidencing Intern within the Medical School. This exciting opportunity has given her a wider understanding of the Research Excellence Framework and development of Impact Cases, she will share her experience.

Please note that the meeting will be followed by drinks and light refreshments

Department of Human Communication Sciences 
Research Seminar Programme – Semester 2, 2019-20

Forthcoming events

Health Sciences School, Department of Human Communication Sciences

For further information, please contact Kate Chadwick

T: (0114) 2222076 / E:

Please note this seminar has been postponed - planned to be rescheduled for Spring 2020 (TBC)

Seminar: Why our brains crave languages

Speaker: Dr Thomas H Bak, University of Edinburgh 

Venue: TBC

Time: TBC

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Abstract: Language learning has been traditionally approached mainly from the perspective of applied linguistics or pedagogy. However, recent studies suggesting that knowledge and regular use of more than one language could slow down cognitive ageing, delay the onset of dementia and improve the cognitive outcome after stroke, open an entirely new perspective, linking multilingualism and language learning to evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, public health and wellbeing. 

Why should language learning have a positive effect on mind and brain? In my talk I will argue that multilingualism is the natural state of human mind and brain and that learning and speaking different language is one of the most natural and most effective ways of cognitive training. I will argue against the idea of a strict “critical period” and in favour of the concept of a “healthy linguistic diet”, a lifetime exposure and use of different languages with different levels of proficiency. 

Short Bio: Born and raised in Cracow, Poland, Dr Thomas H Bak studied medicine in Germany and Switzerland, obtaining his doctorate with a thesis on acute aphasias (language disorders caused by brain diseases) in Freiburg, Germany. He worked clinically in psychiatry, neurology and neurosurgery in Bern, Berlin, Cambridge and Edinburgh, with a particular interest in the relationship between language, cognitive and motor functions. 2010-2018 he was president of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Aphasia, Dementia and Cognitive Disorders (WFN RG ADCD). 

In recent years, Dr Bak’s work focused on the impact of language learning and multilingualism on cognitive functions across the lifespan and in brain diseases such as dementia and stroke. His studies include a wide range of populations, from students to elderly, from early childhood bilinguals to second languages learners, from Scotland, through India to Singapore.

The research seminar is a recent addition to the HCS programme and is being organised with the School of Education. The seminar is followed by a discussion led by Dr Ozge Ozturk, School of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield and Dr Juliette Taylor-Batty, Leeds Trinity University.

Past events

Seminar: Developing an evidence-based template and guidelines for producing accessible health information for people with aphasia: methods, findings and implications for practice. 

Date: Thursday 10th October 2019

Speaker: Dr Caroline Haw, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University of Sheffield

Venue: Elmfield Lecture Theatre 1 

Time: 1.00pm - 2.00pm

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People with aphasia require information about their health. Guidelines and policies highlight the importance of providing accessible information to this population to support their health literacy (Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party, 2016; NHS England, 2015). Studies suggest, however, that people with aphasia continue to feel under-informed after stroke (Hinckley et al., 2013).  Furthermore, healthcare workers report difficulties producing accessible information, and a need for coherent guidelines.

This study aimed to develop a template for presenting information to people with aphasia and to develop guidelines to support the production of accessible information. Firstly, we reviewed the literature and extracted principles for the design of a prototype template, which we developed with graphic designers.  Fourteen people with a range of aphasia severities collaborated in an iterative design process to finalise the template (Sears & Lund, 1997). Participants attended two facilitated focus groups to give their views, after each of which the template was modified according to feedback, and the criteria for the template agreed.

The group discussions were recorded, transcribed, and analysed using Framework analysis (Richie & Spencer, 1994). To develop guidelines, the research team then translated the template criteria into a series of practical steps, accompanied by worked examples, and presented in an accessible format to model best practice.   Speech and language therapists and voluntary sector staff then tested the draft guideline, using it to make some information for people with aphasia. They then completed an online survey, providing feedback and qualitative data. The draft guideline was modified according to participants’ feedback and the data analysed using Framework Analysis. The literature reviews and iterative design process resulted in the development of the template.

The focus group findings informed the final version of the template, including relevant topics, use of language to maximise comprehension of text, optimum number of concepts per page, facilitative features of typography, use of images, and layout of information.  The development and user-testing process resulted in the final guideline (Herbert et al., 2012), published by the Stroke Association. I will share the results of the qualitative data, providing an understanding of the issues from the perspectives of people with aphasia and of people using the guideline. I will show additional outputs from the study, including information materials published by the Stroke Association, and examples to demonstrate the impact of the guidelines on practice.  

The evidence from this study indicates that designing information materials for people with aphasia requires attention to visual, cognitive, and language processing demands, and consideration of the personal experience of aphasia.  Health professionals and others welcome the provision of clear, practical, evidence-based guidelines for producing accessible information for people with aphasia. There are implications for clinical practice, for example to support health professionals to adhere to national standards and guidelines when providing written information, and to support health literacy in people with aphasia (Nutbeam, 2000). These will not, however, ensure that all people understand all information. Given the varied nature of aphasia, translation of these research findings into practice will require further training for healthcare staff and others who provide information to people with aphasia. Further research will be needed to evaluate the impact of the template and guidelines on the outcomes of people with aphasia. 

For further information please contact Catherine Dutton, tel: 0114 2222444, or e-mail:

Seminar: How communication disorders create problems in conversation.

Date: Thursday 7th November 2019

Speaker: Professor Ray Wilkinson, University of Sheffield 

Venue: Medical School Lecture Theatre 3

Time: 1.00pm - 2.00pm

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Traditionally, approaches to the analysis of communication disorders have been primarily medical, neurological or psychological in nature. The findings these approaches produce are based largely on testing within institutional contexts (such as hospitals or schools) and are typically quantitative in nature. Over the last two decades, however, the primarily qualitative approach of conversation analysis (CA), with its focus on talk and other aspects of conduct in naturally occurring conversation and other forms of social interaction, has provided a markedly different method for investigating communication disorders.  

Here I draw together this work to discuss what makes these interactions ‘atypical’, i.e. how the talk of the person with the communication disorder may be seen to not adhere to the normative conventions that ‘typical’ communicators follow, and also how in this situation interactional participants may recurrently treat this as a particular form of problem. Using these findings I present a framework for comparing how a range of types of communication disorders, including aphasia, dysarthria, stammering and dementia, lead to problems in conversation for the participants. More generally, I highlight some of the analytic consequences of using a CA approach compared to more traditional approaches within this area, specifically: (1) the shift from elicited test data (and the theoretical perspectives underpinning the testing) to conversation data; (2) the shift in analytical focus from that of the test/tester to the participants’ own interactional conduct and orientations; and (3) the shift from the test/tester’s notion of error, omission or inappropriacy to the participants’ treatment of some aspect of the interaction as a ‘trouble’ or ‘problem’. 

For further information please contact Catherine Dutton, tel: 0114 2222444, or e-mail:

Thursday 5th March 2020

Seminar: Sentence-level frequency effects in language in aphasia

Speaker: Dr Elizabeth Anderson    

Venue: Elmfield, Lecture Theatre 1

Time: 1.00pm - 2.00pm

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Abstract: This talk will review some assumptions of generative (Chomsky, 1980) and usage-based (Langacker, 1988) linguistic approaches to language, focussing on word and sentence-level constructions as pairings between linguistic form and communicative function (Goldberg, 2013). The talk will review published evidence that usage-based properties of language, such as frequency of occurrence, affect language processing in adults with aphasia. Three original studies that explore the effect of frequency on the relationship between verbs and sentence structure in older adults and adults with acquired aphasia will be explored in detail. The talk will conclude that the frequency of verbs as single words, as well as the frequency of verbs in particular syntactic constructions, affects language processing in adults with and without aphasia, subject to task demands.

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