CARLA – Computer-based Accessible Receptive Language Assessment

CARLA allows a more objective and accurate profile of the receptive language of children with physical disabilities who cannot access standard assessments.  It is also motivating and fun, overcoming the barriers associated with traditional assessments and enabling therapists to assess children with a range of needs.

D4D Project Lead and Organisation

Andrea Kirton and Simon Judge; Barnsley NHS FT

When did project start?


Clinical Requirement

Estimates show that up to 6,200 children and young people in England need communication aids to make choices and create messages by using pictures, symbols, words or letters that can be linked to an electronic voice. According to the Office of the Communication Champion, providing an appropriate communication aid can save over £500K in a child’s lifetime, as well as enabling them to receive appropriate educational provision.

Currently speech and language therapists use a variety of published assessments in order to determine the comprehension of spoken language of children with physical disability, with drawings which the child points to in order to make a selection.  Some children with physical disabilities cannot access these standard assessments.

The Solution

The Computerised Accessible Receptive Language Assessment (CARLA) software has been designed to help speech and language therapists get an accurate picture of a child’s receptive language if the child has a physical disability that means they are unable to speak or point to pictures. The CARLA software overcomes these assessment barriers.

The technology has been developed by Devices for Dignity HTC and Barnsley Hospital’s Assistive Technology team in partnership with Jabbla, a Belgian technology company. Incorporating eye gaze tracking, mouse pointers and switch scanning options, the software is the first assessment of its kind to combine all these features into a single software package.

CARLA has been designed for children with a physical disability, and also has the potential to help children with sensory or attention difficulties and adults with communication disabilities such as those with learning difficulties, dementia or aphasia.  CARLA provides an objective record and evaluation of the child’s responses.


CARLA has the potential to improve the speech and language therapy service provided to children as it will provide valuable information about the child’s level of comprehension. This information  enables the speech and language therapist to provide a more detailed and more objective description of the child’s comprehension which can then be used to plan therapy or education, making a significant difference in terms of their educational outcomes and the language support put into place.

The use of this product will also reduce the time assessments take for therapists who no longer have to attempt to adapt inappropriate tools for use with their individual patients.

By coming to an agreement with a commercialisation partner, Jabbla (based in Belgium), D4D has been able to ensure that CARLA can be distributed through Jabbla’s International network of dealers, bringing its benefit to children across the world.


  • Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Barnsley AT Team)
  • Devices for Dignity HTC at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Jabbla (and its subsidiaries, Techcess Ltd and Jabbla USA)