Personal profile

Administrative Posts

  • Leader of research group focusing on Communication and Health (COHERE) at the University of East Anglia

Areas of Expertise

Rehabilitation in developing countries; communication and health.


Professional Qualifications and memberships


  • 1997    Ph.D.  Public Health   University College London, UK.
  • 1984    M.Ed.  Special Education   University of Ibadan, Nigeria.


  • 1972    Postgraduate Diploma in Audiology    Manchester University, UK
  • 1967    Diploma in Speech Therapy    Manchester Metropolitan Univ.UK.


  • 1976    Certificate in Interior Design      Rhodec College of Art UK.
  • Member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists(RCSLT)UK
  • Member of the British Society of Audiologists (BSA)
  • Member of Communication Therapy International, (CTI) UK.
  • Member of The International Affairs Association (IAA) of The American Speech Language Hearing Association.(ASHA), USA.
  • Member of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics (IALP)


Personal statement

The focus of my career has always been related to improving the quality of life people who cannot communicate well. I have worked in many countries in a wide variety of settings, including health, education, social services and local communities. I have supported the development of Community-based Rehabilitation (CBR) programmes world wide, and see this as intrinsically linked to the conceptualizations of disablement in the International Classifications of functioning and Disability.(ICF). My experiences have afforded me the opportunity to acquire a wide range of skills including those required for academic and management activities. They have also given me an appreciation and understanding of the power of multi-disciplinary and participatory approaches. For me this has extended into the research arena, where I am committed to investigating complex interventions using a consultative multi-disciplinary approach which is user centred and draws on the most appropriate methodology for the research question posed. 

My key achievements:

  1. Total research grants of £1,370,988
  2. Facilitated funding of £2,080.000
  3. Leader of research group focusing on Communication and Health (COHERE) at the University of East Anglia
  4. Advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the editors of ‘The World Report on Disability and Rehabilitation’ (due out 2009)
  5. Contributed to the education and supervision of: 7 PhD students, 90 MScs in Community disability Studies, UCL. 59 Post-graduates of Community based Rehabilitation (CBR) in Uganda, 20 Diplomats of Speech and Language therapy in Sri-Lanka. and 150 B.Ed Graduates at University of Ibadan Nigeria. This contribution has related to human communication, disability and development, qualitative research methods Speech and language therapy and Audiology.
  6. Initiated the amalgamation of UCL and Healthlink Worldwide Resource Centres into SOURCE see
  7. Representative for the Royal College of Speech therapists (RCSLT) UK, on the EU commission for Speech and Language Therapists (CPLOL). Led the European research steering group in the formation of a bi-lingual data base.
  8. Founder and Executive Director of Uganda based NGO, CBR Africa network (CAN)
  9. Internal/external examiner for University of London, South Bank University, Makerere University and Kyambogo University Uganda. University of Cape Town South Africa.
  10. Editor of 2 books and 7 book chapters
  11. Author of 31 journal publications, 1 book and 18 conference presentations.

Key Research Interests

My initial research in Uganda established that just under half the disabled population seeking support in the community, had a communication disability (Hartley and Wirz 2001) and that the skills and knowledge required for providing appropriate interventions was lacking (Hartley 1998).  My research indicated that meaningful analysis and interventions were affected by the narrowness of the impairment-based approach.  Data from Uganda and Nigeria was used to generate the development of a ‘communication disability model’. (Hartley and Wirz 2001).  This model reflected several inter-related dimensions to disability and resonates well with the on-going work of WHO, subsequently reflected in the International classifications of Functioning ICF (WHO 2000).  The model provided a framework for an approach based on meeting people’s needs, utilizing parents and community members and considering disability as a social construct (Hartley and Wirz 2000 ) (Hartley and Wirz 1999).  It provided an alternative basis for the development of training in SLT in less developed countries has informed our training support programmes in both Brazil (Lichtig et al 1999), Sri-Lanka (Wickenden et al 2003) and Uganda (Robinson et al (2003). These approaches are also being utilized by the new courses now developing in Bangladesh, Kenya and Pakistan.

Based on the communication disability model an alternative outcome measurement tool was developed in Uganda (Baker and Hartley 1998).  This tool was then piloted and adapted for use in Kenya.  Concurrently work took place to develop interventions based on meeting the needs of disabled people and their families within community development and through participatory approaches. (Hartley et al 2007) This was done together with Women’s groups and other community groups including Disabled People’s Organizations.  The resulting intervention has been used in an intervention study using a cluster randomized control trial in Kenya.  Initial analysis shows a statistical improvement in the quality of life of the families and some improvement but not statistically significant, in communication skills.  This result serves to emphasize that non-technical community based action can change the lives of disabled people and their families for the better. Specialist interventions are possibly more effective at making a difference to the impairment aspects of disablement.

At the same time, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of East Anglia and Queensland University, Canada , and also linked to the theory developed in the communication disability model,(Hartley and Wirz 2002), I am involved in work related to utilizing the ICF (WHO 2001) to examine aspects of rehabilitative practice.  Initial steps have included systematic reviews of RCTs done examining the effectiveness of interventions for people with communication disabilities worldwide, using the ICF as an analytical structure. New proposals will be looking at how clinical assessment tools associated with rehabilitative practice link to the ICF in relation to instruments used with stroke patients, with people who stammer and children with learning disabilities.

Selected publications

Hartley,S..  Murira,G. Mungoma, M. Newton,C (2008) Using community/researcher partnerships to develop a culturally relevant intervention for children with communication disabilities in Kenya: Disability and Rehabilitation 1-10

Xiong,T. Hartley,S. (2008) Challenges to linking health status outcome measures and clinical assessment tools to the ICF.  Advances in Physiotherapy 10: 152-156.

Kuipers,P. Wirz,S. Hartley,S. (2008) Systematic synthesis of community based rehabilitation (CBR) project evaluation reports for evidence based policy:  a proof of concept study. BMC Health and Human Rights 8:3 1-17

Muhit MA, Shah SP, Gilbert CE, Hartley SD, Foster A.(2007) The Key Informant method (KIM)- a novel means of ascertaining blind children in Bangladesh. British Journal of Opthalmology 91:995-999

Hartley,S. (2007) An interactionist way forward for improving the relevance of Speech and Language Therapy and Audiology research and practice.  The South African Journal of Communication Disorders Vol 54. 5-9

Gona, J. Hartley,S. Newton CRJ. (2006) Using participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) in the identification of children with disabilities in rural Kilifi, Kenya.  Remote Rural Health 6 (online), 2006: 553. Available from: 

El-Sharkawy, G. Newton,C. Hartley,S.  (2006) Attitudes and practices of families and health-care personnel towards children with epilepsy in Kilifi, Kenya.  Epilepsy and Behaviour 8. 201-212

Hartley,S. Ojwang,V.P.,Bagawemu,A.,Ddamulira,M. Chavuta,A. (2005)  How do carers of disabled children cope?  The Uganda perspective.  Child: Care, Health and Development. 31 2 167-180

Millward, H., Ojwang, V.P., Carter, J.A., Hartley,S  (2005). International Guidelines and the Inclusion of Disabled people:  The Ugandan Story.  Disability and Society. Vol 20 No 2

Hartley, S. and Wirz,S. (2002) ‘Development of a Communication Disability Model’  Social Science and Medicine. 54. 1543-1557

Teaching Interests

Current teaching activity focused mainly on research degree students with some supervision of undergraduate research dissertations on the Speech and language therapy and occupational therapy courses.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or