Chair In Disability And Inclusion


Faculty of Health


School of Health & Soc. Dev.


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Research interests

Initially trained as a speech pathologist in the UK, Professor Balandin completed her PhD in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney.  She has published over 110 articles in peer reviewed international journals and 20+ book chapters. Her research interests centre on adults with lifelong disability with a particular focus on participation of those with little or no functional speech who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and those who are ageing.  She has conducted research into health interactions for adults who need AAC including several studies on interactions between this group of adults and staff in hospitals. She has studied the impact of dysphagia on those who are ageing with cerebral palsy and has also explored a range of issues around friendships and loneliness for both adults and children who use AAC. 

She was a lead investigator on an ARC linkage grant that investigated transition to retirement for adults with lifelong disability and also explored how Norwegian seniors viewed the inclusion of adults with intellectual disability in their senior centres.

With Norwegian colleagues she conducted the first studies in the affordances of Virtual Worlds for fostering friendships and new leisure experiences for adults with disability and also how such virtual environments can be utilised for teaching students about disability. This study built on her previous research on teaching with people with lifelong disability in tertiary education.

She is currently one of the chief investigators on two NHMRC projects, one exploring safety incidents in hospital where the patients has little or no functional speech and one investigating the use of personally controlled electronic health records (PCEHR) by adults with disability.

Professor Balandin has supervised more than 20 doctoral students whose topics have included ‘The experiences of older parents of adults with autism’ ‘End of life issues for adults with intellectual disability and those who care for them’, ‘Participation of students who use AAC in Norwegian secondary schools’ and ‘Experiences of grief and loss of adults with cerebral palsy and little or no functional speech’.

She has strong research links with the UK, Norway and the US.

Teaching interests

Professor Balandin's teaching has centred on the role of communication in facilitating community participation with a particular focus on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
She developed and coordinated a Masters program in developmental disability at the University of Sydney and currently lectures both nationally and internationally on AAC, participation, and ageing with lifelong disability.
She is an adjunct Professor at Edith Cowan University and Sydney University and a docent at the University of Helsinki.
She is the immediate past editor of the Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, is a member of several international editorial boards and is on a number of grant review panels, including the ARC as an international expert and FWO in Belgium.


2012 Stendal, K, Molka-Danielsen, J. Balandin, S., & Munckfold, B. E. (2012), ECIS 2012 Best Paper Award. Virtual worlds and people with lifelong disability: exploring the relationship with virtual self and others

2010 Elizabeth Usher Memorial Lecture, Speech Pathology Australia

2009 Editor’s award for most significant student research article in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, September 2009, Cooper, L., Balandin, S., Trembath, D. (2009). The loneliness experiences of young adults with cerebral palsy who use augmentative and alternative communication

2005 College of Health Sciences and Faculty of Health Sciences Excellence in Teaching Awards

2005 Faculty of Health Sciences Excellence in Teaching Awards

2004 Editor’s award for most significant student research article in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, December, 2004, Hemsley, B. & Balandin, S. (2004) Without AAC: The stories of unpaid carers of adults with cerebral palsy and complex communication needs in hospital. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 20, 243-258

1998 Fellow Speech Pathology Australia

1998  Editor’s award for most significant student research article in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Balandin, S., & Iacono, T. (1998). Topics of meal break conversations. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 14(3), 131-146.

1997 ISAAC Prentke Romich Scholarship

1994  Australian Group on Severe Communication Disorders Travelling Scholarship