Professor Jill Bradshaw

Co-Head of Tizard Centre,
Professor of Communication in Intellectual and Developmental Disability,
Consultant Speech and Language Therapist,
Member of Senate
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Professor Jill Bradshaw


Qualifications: BSc (Hons) Clinical Communication Studies (1992);
PhD Staff Attributions of Challenging Behaviour and Perceptions of Communication in Adults with Learning Disabilities (2008);
Registered Member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists RC0009605 June 1992
Dr Bradshaw trained as a speech and language therapist.  She worked in a community team supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities before joining the Tizard Centre in 1995. Until 2020, she was the Director of Studies for Undergraduate Programmes at the Tizard Centre. Until 2021, she was Senior Tutor and was the Chief Examiner until 2022. She is now Co-Head of Tizard Centre
Jill is the academic lead on the very popular Understanding Autism MOOC which has had over 300000 learners since it started in 2017. Jill co-produced this course with autistic adults. This year, Jill has co-produced four Expert Tracks on Autism; Learning about Autism from Autistic People, Education, Health, Social Policy and the Law.    

Research interests

Jill’s research has focused on improving communication for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This has included staff training, communication passports, augmentative and alternative communication, Talking Mats™, communication and people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, involving people who have complex communication challenges in decisions relating to their support, communication and behaviours that challenge, early intervention, co-production with family carers. She is also interested in dimensions of culture in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and communication and person-centred active support.


Jill leads teaching activities at Tizard Centre in her role as Co-Head of Tizard Centre. 


Completed PhD students include:

Naomi Pearson (1st sup), ‘Exploring the Characteristics of Social Skills Assessments’ (PhD in Applied Psychology).

Rachel Harrison (1st sup), (2024) ‘The impact of cuts to care and support on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, older parents and managers of support services’ (PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50th Anniversary Scholarship).

Elisabeth Gale (1st sup), (2024) Autistic woman and girls: Development of tools to better identify autistic women and girls’ (PhD in Applied Psychology, Tizard Centre Scholarship).

Joanne Morrison (1st sup), (2023) the use of communication with people with learning disabilities and/or autism in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland (PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Tizard Centre Scholarship).

Dr Melanie Howell (2nd sup), (2020) ‘The Development and Preliminary Validation of Teacher Assessment of Barriers to Learning for Pupils on the Autism Spectrum in Special Schools’ (PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Tizard Centre Scholarship).

Dr Gabor Petri (2nd sup), (2018) ‘Still Out in the Cold” – Self-advocacy and the Disabled People’s Movement’ (PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’, Tizard Centre Scholarship).

Dr Marica Gatt (1st sup), (2021) ‘Improving Augmentative and Alternative Communication Use between Mothers, Siblings and Children with Communication Disabilities’ (PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities).

Current PhD candidates include:

Mark Murphy (2nd sup), Developing a framework to strengthen system-wide processes for support planning in relation to the emotional and behavioural development of individuals with IDD’ (PhD in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Tizard Centre scholarship).


  • Editor in Chief, Tizard Learning Disability Review (until 2023)
  • Registered Member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
  • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapist National Adviser for People with Learning Disabilities)
  • Registered with the Health and Care Professions Council
  • Chair of Scotland A and B Research Ethics Committees
  • Talking Mats™ Honorary Research Associate
  • Trustee Advisor; Member of External Support Group; Member of Professional Panel, Challenging Behaviour Foundation
  • Membership of the Institute for Teaching and Learning
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