The society has its origins in the linguistic and cognitive approaches being developed for aphasia in the USA and Europe during the 1970s and 1980s, in contrast to the neurological focus that had existed until that time (i.e. lesion localisation, with little consideration of detailed explorations of the language impairments). In 1975, Ruth Lesser was completing her PhD studies on verbal comprehension in aphasia, and the UK College of Speech Therapists (now the RCSLT) asked her to write a book on aphasia. “Linguistic Investigations of Aphasia” was published by Edward Arnold in 1978. This lead to Ruth being invited to give talks and workshops around the world. During this time a number of single case studies were published in Britain, revealing that, in aphasia, deficits could be identified at specific stages of linguistic processing. This had clear implications for therapy (i.e. that it should target these linguistic deficits). In July 1980, Chris Code and Dave Müller organised the Aphasia Therapy Conference in Cardiff. In attendance were John Marshall, Max Coltheart, Margaret Fawcus & Karalyn Patterson. This meeting formed the basis for the book “Aphasia Therapy” (1983).
Chris Code and Linda Worrall (then Linda Smith, completing her PhD at Nottingham) had a discussion about starting an aphasia society modelled on the American Clinical Aphasiology Conferences. In 1985, there was a Nottingham Conference on Single Case Methods. A meeting was organised with Chris Code, Elizabeth McGuirk, Dave Müller, Sally Byng and Max Coltheart where this was discussed further. In April 1986, Dave Müller organised an Aphasiology Conference at Preston Polytechnic.
In January 1987, Chris Code and Dave Müller launched the international journal Aphasiology; Ruth Lesser was a member of the editorial board.
The first British Aphasiology Society Conference was held at a hotel on Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne in September 1987. The conference was organised by Ruth Lesser, with particular support from Susan Edwards (University of Reading) and Shelagh Brumfitt (Sheffield University). During this meeting there were elections to the steering committee and Ruth Lesser became the first Chair. David Howard became the first treasurer, and Sally Byng was the first secretary. Other committee members included Eirian Jones and Faye Thompson. David Howard and Margaret Fawcus were jointly responsible for the first set of rules/regulations.
The second BAS conference was 1990 at the University of Reading, hosted by Susan Edwards.
Research active Speech & Language Therapists were the main driving force behind the founding of the British Aphasiology Society. To this day, the translation between clinical and research practice remains core to BAS activities. The committee is made up of volunteers, typically including practising Speech & Language Therapists, academics and clinical-academics working with aphasia.