The project will provide scientific insights into (a) the literacy development of children and teenagers with complex communication needs, (b) the skills and actions needed to teach literacy to these children. The project will also supply guidelines for the assessment and teaching of literacy skills and thus enhance optimal conditions for (more) inclusive school success.

Would you like to conduct relevant research for non-speaking children with multiple disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication? As a PhD candidate, you will provide an important contribution to the development and teaching of literacy skills for these children. Therefore, you will also contribute to new insights into the broader topics of education, learning, and participation.
The project called ‘Development and Teaching of Literacy for Children with Complex Communication Needs’ is aimed at gaining insight into the process of literacy development and teaching for children and teenagers who are non-speaking. Most of them have multiple developmental disabilities (any combination of intellectual, sensory, and / or motor disability) and rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC; e.g. manual signs, speech generating devices, body language, and graphic and tangible symbols). Next to the development of communication and language skills, functional literacy skills are of great importance for participation and inclusion, in education and in the broader society.

The present project will examine (i) what the current curriculum or clinical practice for literacy development is for children with complex communication needs and how they are currently being taught (qualitative research, field observations, interviews), (ii) which predictors play a role in the literacy development of these children and what/how they should be taught (cross-sectional and longitudinal, with possible intervention research)  and (iii) which skills and what conceptual, theoretical and didactic framework is needed for teaching literacy to these children. As a PhD candidate, you will be expected  to write the research proposal (research design and research questions). You will be invited to provide your own insights and perspectives in determining the final direction of this project.

The project will provide scientific insights into (a) the literacy development of children and teenagers with complex communication needs, (b) the skills and actions needed to teach literacy to these children. The project will also supply guidelines for the assessment and teaching of literacy skills and thus enhance optimal conditions for (more) inclusive school success.

Participation in teaching is not part of the contract, although you may be asked to tutor students of Pedagogical Sciences writing their Bachelor’s or Master’s theses, when these theses are directly related to the current project.


  • You should have a Master’s or Research Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Neuropsychology, Psycholinguistics, Behavioural Science, Pedagogical or Educational Sciences, Educational Psychology, or another relevant study.
  • You have extensive quantitative and/or qualitative research experience, outstanding methodological and analytical qualities, and experience with collecting and analysing data.
  • You have excellent oral and writing skills (both in Dutch and English), both for scientific communication and for communication and collaboration with parents, teachers, and other professionals or communication partners of children with disabilities.
  • You have organisational talent, accompanied by independence and perseverance.
  • You have affinity with and understanding of the target group of children with multiple developmental disorders and complex communication needs.
  • You have affinity with education and teaching. Relevant experience in the field of education is recommended.

We are

The project will be embedded in (1) the Learning and Plasticity programme of the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI) at Radboud University, (2) the special academic research agenda on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) at Radboud University, and (3) the clinical practice of Stichting Milo. BSI is a multidisciplinary behavioural research institute. Our researchers collaborate across the boundaries of psychology, educational science and communication science. BSI has seven research programmes covering three major research themes: 1) development and learning, 2) psychopathology, health and well-being, and 3) social processes and communication. BSI conducts fundamental research as well as applied/translational research. You will be embedded in a research team carrying out the academic research agenda on AAC. Most researchers of this team work for both Radboud University and Stichting Milo, guaranteeing a direct connection between science and clinical practice. Stichting Milo is an assessment and intervention centre of AAC for children and young adults with complex communication needs. Milo has several locations in the south of the Netherlands, with its headquarters in Schijndel, but also provides ambulatory care throughout the Netherlands.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer

  • Employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) – 1.0 FTE (4 your contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,443 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,122 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment  and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 29 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University’s primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Would you like more information?

For questions about the position, please contact Dr Stijn Deckers, Lecturer Pedagogical Sciences at Radboud University, Researcher on research agenda on AAC, at 06 15 62 65 82 or

Practical information and applications

You can apply until 15 June 2022, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Dr Stijn Deckers. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:

  • A letter of motivation.
  • Your CV.

The first round of interviews will take place on Tuesday 21 June. The second round of interviews will take place on Tuesday 28 June. You would preferably begin employment on 1 September 2022.
We can imagine you’re curious about our application procedure. It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.


We drafted this vacancy to find and hire our new colleague ourselves. Recruitment agencies are kindly requested to refrain from responding.

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