Julie leads African communication disability projects

Dr Julie Marshall has been leading a series of international projects to help children in Africa with communication disabilities.

Julie, Reader in Communication Disability and Development, is researching the experiences, attitudes, beliefs and wishes of street-connected children, with communication disabilities, and their main carers, in western Kenya.

The project, LEAP from the Street – Learning, Educating and Protecting, is funded by Comic Relief.

Julie will be working with the LEAP team in Kenya, training them to develop the data collection materials and to collect the data. She will be recruiting a part-time research associate to be based at the University to manage some of this work.

She said: “The work will be challenging for all sorts of reasons, not least the vulnerability of this group, the fact that we are based in Manchester and the project is in Kenya, as well linguistic, cultural and organisational differences and challenges.

“However, there are some fantastic team members, including a speech and language therapist who was part of a mentoring project I recently competed in Uganda.”

Julie is also partnering the UNHCR and Communicability Global to develop a consortium of organisations to work together, to better understand and describe the nature and size of the challenges of supporting Gender Based Violence (GBV) survivors with communication disabilities, in refugee contexts, in Rwanda.

Having a communication disability makes the reporting of GBV challenging or impossible. UNHCR and other humanitarian stakeholders in Rwanda have identified an urgent need for social models of support that involve sensitising and training front-line workers to increase awareness of, and sensitivity to, the particular issues.