Barbara Purves

Associate Professor

Ph.D., M.Sc., S-LP(C)


Phone: (604) 822-2288
Fax: (604) 822-6569


My research and teaching interests are grounded in over twenty-five years of clinical practice as a speech-language pathologist working primarily with individuals with acquired neurologically-based speech and language disorders. My clinical practice, teaching, and research are guided by models such as that exemplified in the World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, which is based on the integration of a medical and a social model of health. Accordingly, my work acknowledges the importance of skilled intervention to assess and reduce impairment where possible with equal commitment to the promotion of social re-engagement for adults living with acquired communication impairments. My work is also guided by my appreciation for the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in addressing complex problems. My commitment to this approach, gained in clinical practice, has led me to seek opportunities for such collaboration in all my work. Together, these themes are reflected in the evolution of my research and teaching activities.

My research is thematically unified by a focus on social aspects and consequences of acquired neurological disorders affecting communication, including aphasia, dementia, and dysarthria. Currently, I have two main lines of enquiry, each with a strong interdisciplinary component.

Family Conversations in Aphasia and Dementia

The purpose of this line of research is to understand the nature of changes in conversation from the perspectives of a person with aphasia or dementia and his or her family, including the strategies they develop to accommodate to those changes. A significant aspect of this research is its focus on family as a social unit while acknowledging the importance of each individual’s perspective as part of a unique dyad with the affected person. Research projects in this domain, supported by both the Alzheimer Society of BC (doctoral support) and the Alzheimer Society of Canada, have included both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Use of Technology to Support Everyday Conversation for People with Aphasia or Dementia

The rapid expansion and familiarity of computer-based technologies for people across the life span have resulted in increased availability and accessibility of resources to support communication, both in rehabilitation and in everyday life, for people with acquired language disorders. While some software programs have been developed specifically for this purpose, the development of new communication technologies in everyday life (including, for example, webcam conferencing or PDAs with text to speech capabilities) also offer exciting possibilities for supporting conversational interactions for people with aphasia who may rely on multimodal strategies to communicate. The purpose of my research is, broadly, to explore how people with aphasia or dementia and their conversation partners can use these technologies to support their communication and, further, what adaptations are required to achieve maximum benefit. Research projects in this domain have included interdisciplinary projects with graduate students and researchers from speech-language pathology, computer science, and cognitive psychology.  Currently, we are engaged in customizing and testing a software program called CIRCA (Computer Interactive Reminiscence Conversation Aid), developed in Dundee, Scotland, to support conversational interactions of BC seniors with dementia (supported by the BC Medical Services Foundation).

Journal Articles and Conference Proceedings

Purves, B. (in press). Exploring positioning in Alzheimer Disease through analyses of family talk. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice.

Purves, B. (2009). The complexities of speaking for another. Aphasiology, 23, (7/8), 914-925.

Albright, E. & Purves, B. (2008).  Exploring SentenceShaper™:  Treatment and augmentative possibilities.  Aphasiology, 22, (7/8), 741-752.

Allen, M., Leung, R., McGrenere, J., & Purves, B. (2008). Involving domain experts in assistive technology research.  Universal Access in the Information Society, 7, 3, 145-154.

Allen, M., McGrenere, J., & Purves, B. (2008). The field evaluation of a mobile digital image communication application designed for people with aphasia. TACCESS, 1, (1), 5: 1-26.

Davies, R., Marcella, S., McGrenere, J., & Purves, B. (2004).  The ethnographically informed participatory design of a PDA application to support communication.  Proceedings of ACM ASSETS 2004, 153-160.

O’Connor, D., Phinney, A., Smith, A., Small, A., Purves, B., Perry, J., Drance, E., Donnelly, M., Chaudhury, H., & Beattie, L. (2007). Personhood in dementia care:  Developing a research agenda for broadening the vision. Dementia, 6, 121-142.

Carpenter, C., Ericksen, J., Purves, B. & Hill, D. (2004). Evaluation.of the Impact of an Interdisciplinary Health Care Ethics Course on Clinical Practice.  Learning in Health and Social Care, 3, 223-236.

Purves, B. & Suto, M. (2004) In limbo:  Creating continuity of identity in a discharge planning unit.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71, 173-181.

Books and Book Chapters

O’Connor, D. & Purves, B. (eds.) (2009).  Decision-making, Personhood, and Dementia:  Exploring the Interface. London. Jessica Kingsley. (40%).

Purves, B. & Perry, B. (2009). Families, dementia, and decisions. In: O’Connor, D. & Purves, B. (eds.) Decision-making, Personhood, and Dementia:  Exploring the Interface, pp. 172-186.London:  Jessica Kingsley.

AUDI 516C       (Discourse Analysis:  Applied to Acquired Language Disorders)
AUDI 526          (Acquired Language Disorders)
AUDI 527          (Introduction to Dysphagia)
AUDI 586          (Acquired Language Disorders II)
IHHS 401          (Interprofessional Health Care Ethics:  Course Co-ordinator)

Interdisciplinary Collaborations:

Centre for Research on Personhood in Dementia

Professional Designations:

Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Certification: S-LP(C)

British Columbia Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Registration:  S-LP (Reg. BC)

Community Affiliations:

Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia:  Member of the Executive Committee.


Killam Teaching Prize, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine, 2009.