Dr Darryl Sellwood completed his PhD in 2019 at Flinders University of South Australia and received the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence. His PhD research project investigated the experiences of people with Complex Communication Needs in getting into and keeping romantic or sexual relationships. Darryl has complex communication needs (CCN) and uses an AAC device. As a computer science graduate with experience in the telecommunications field, he has a broad perspective on both user and technical issues. He graduated with first class Honours in a Bachelor of Art degree researching telecommunications access for people who rely on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). He co-authored a paper based on his Honours research with his two supervisors, which was one of the four prize winning papers published in the May 2012 edition of the Telecommunications Journal of Australia. An incisive and provocative thinker and an engaging speaker, Darryl has presented numerous conference papers and keynote addresses at both Australian and international conferences..

Born in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1970, Darryl spent his childhood at the Regency Park Centre, a school and residence for children with disabilities. Growing up without a family, Darryl realised early the value of community and has built a strong network of connections through involvement in his local church and a variety of other groups sharing his interests which include world music, technology and Christian ministry.

He uses an electric wheelchair for mobility and an AAC device to support his communication. Anyone who is willing to take the time soon discovers that he is a fun-loving, intelligent and caring person, with a slightly twisted sense of humour, who is determined not to allow his disability, cerebral palsy, to rule his life.

His early schooling seemed to place a low priority on literacy and his poor skills in this area made his early AAC experiences frustrating. Darryl attended his local High School then trained and worked in the information technology field finally completing his Bachelor of Computer and Information Science degree at the University of South Australia (UniSA) in 2008. During his undergraduate studies, Darryl strived to improve his literacy skills and received numerous Merit Awards and Chancellors Letters of Commendation and was invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society.

Darryl represented Australia in the Computer Programming event at the 1995 and 2000 International Abilympics, which is a vocational competition for skilled people with disabilities held in a different country every four years. He received a Certificate of Merit at the 1995 event.

He has a long history of involvement in advocacy and striving to improve services for people with disabilities. Darryl has volunteered on the boards of several community agencies. Between 2005 and 2011, he was a director of the Australian Communication Exchange Limited (ACE), a not-for-profit company offering communication products and services to Deaf, communication impaired, hearing impaired and hearing people.

His role at ACE and his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) research enabled him to discover the point where his interests in people and technology converge. Darryl continues to pursue a research career in the Disability field, especially within the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) sector,  exploring ways to improve the lives of  people with complex communication needs. This aspiration is motivated by a passion to enable people to live more satisfying lives.

At the beginning of 2024, he completed a three-year contract working part time as a Scholarly Fellow at Flinders University, as part of a panel reviewing curriculum in the Disability Studies discipline. In 2023, he completed his first post-doctoral research project as lead investigator, which explored the lived experiences adults with disabilities had during the COVID-19 pandemic who receive support from the NDIS to live in shared or independent accommodation.

Since May 2023 he has been chair of AGOSCI, the Australian Group Supporting Communication Inclusion, a national organisation which aims to serve people who may not rely on speech alone to understand or be understood by others.

As a determined, lateral thinker with a slightly twisted sense of humour, I enjoy working on thinking of creative ways to solve problems that could enhance the quality of life for others as well as for myself. I am optimistic that I will continue to succeed and achieve exciting things in the future. - Dr Darryl Sellwood


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