The Extended Role of the Communication Partner in AAC interaction

    Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


    The Extended Role of the Communication Partner in AAC interactionIntroductionThe speaking communication partner in AAC interaction has a unique role (Blackstone et al., 2007). Interactional research in the field of AAC has, for instance, found that the interaction is characterized by a great deal of co-construction and that the ’ecology’ of the interaction changes in comparison with spoken interaction (Collins, 1996; Higginbotham, Mathy-Laikko & Yoder, 1988; Sigurd Pilesjö, 2012). This means that the communication partner takes on more jobs than is commonly done in spoken interaction. Thus, apart from being the ordinary communication partner, he also does other things as, for instance, ’voicing’ (Sigurd Pilesjö, 2012) the utterance of the individual with severe speech and physical impairment (SSPI). This knowledge is important in the training of communication partners.AimBased on micro-analyses on naturally occurring social interaction, this session will demonstrate tasks that the speaking communication partner can undertake in AAC- interaction.Method and dataThe method of Conversation analysis (CA) is used in the current study (Higginbotham & Engelke, 2013). The general aim of CA is at getting insight into how participants’ actions are organized, arranged and systematized in interaction. The main issue concerns identifying which aspects of the action the participants themselves treat as interactionally relevant, that is, what they orient to as being relevant for the ongoing process of achieving understanding.Extracts from everyday interaction as they occured naturally will be shown and analyzed. Due to cerebral palsy, the two children both have a severe speech and physical impairment. In addition, the girl has a moderate intellectual disability. In the interaction with the boy, he uses a lightpointer to point at a communication board with graphic symbols, blissymbols (McNaughton, 1985). In the interaction with the girl, she uses natural non-spoken modes of expression (e.g. gaze and body movements). In the excerpts, both the boy and the girl interact with their mothers, at home.The data in the present study consist of video recordings. Three cameras weremounted on tripods and positioned in a room at home (living room, by the dinner table) where interaction occurred. The cameras were turned on and the researcher left the room. A detailed sequential transcription has been done according to the conventions of Conversation analysis (Ochs, 1996) and non-spoken, presumably interactionally relevant action, has been transcribed using the proposed transcription conventions in AAC (von Tetzchner & Hygum Jensen, 1996). The data have been shown and analyzed at several data sessions with researchers in the field.FindingsThe findings demonstrate that the speaking co-participant is sensitive to the actions of the person with impairments’ display of attention and actions within the local ‘contextual configuration’ (Goodwin, 2000). Due to differing resources, the relevant options for the next move in the interaction are altered locally. Thus, the contextual configuration changes. In the two instances of interaction there are different resources available and two different organizational patterns of interaction appear.In the interaction with the girl, her coordination of gaze and arm/hand movement is ascribed meaning by the speaking communication partner and is sequentially fitted into the unfolding interaction and the local sense-making. The communication partner maps the actions of the girl with linguistic content. The speaking communication partner also adjusts a request in such a manner that the girl has the possibility to answer.When analyzing the interaction between the boy using a communication board, and his mother, the findings show another organizational pattern of interaction. The turn is collaboratively and step-wise accomplished, with, at first, a symbol pointing by the boy and, second, a voicing by the speaking communication partner. The speaking communication partner also ascribes that the pointings go together, elaborates the pointed-at linguistic elements into correct Swedish and adds prosody.Thus, the social surroundings adapt to the challenges caused by the impairment and shape an individual framework for the organisation of interaction so that each child with SSPI is able to function as an active participant.However, the collaborative construction of meaning in interactions with people with severe communication impairments can be rather difficult (Finlay, Antaki & Walton, 2007). There is a risk of ascribing invalid meaning. This risk is probably higher the fewer and less specific the actions are of the child with SSPI. Clinical implications will be discussed.ConclusionMicro-analyzes of two different dyads were carried out. Depending on the available resources, different practices occurred. Different tasks done by the speaking communication partner are highlighted. This knowledge is important when educating new communication partners. It is also essential to discuss how easily the speaking communication partner can take over the content of the turn, from being solelythe ’animator’ of the turn into becoming the ’author’ of the turn. Declaration of Interests StatementThe author does not have any financial or other interest in objects or entities mentioned in this paper.ReferencesBlackstone, S., Williams, M. & Wilkins, D. (2007). Key Principles Underlying Research and Practice in AAC. AAC- Augmentative and Alternative Communication,23(3), 191-203.Collins, S. (1996). Referring expressions in conversations between aided and natural speakers. In S. H. J. von Tetzchner, M. (Ed.), Autmentative and Alternative Communication. European Perspectives (pp. 89-100). London: Whurr.Finlay, W. M. L., Antaki, C. & Walton, C. (2007). On Not Being Noticed: Intellectual Disabilities and the Nonvocal Register. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 45(4), 227-245.Goodwin, C. (2000). Gesture, aphasia, and interaction. In D. McNeill (Ed.), Language and Gesture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Higginbotham, J., Mathy-Laikko, P. & Yoder, D. (1988). Studying Conversations of Augmentative Communication System Users. In L. Bernstein (Ed.), The Vocally Impaired: Clinical Practice and Research (pp. 265-294). Philadelphia: Grune & Stratton.McNaughton, S. (1985). Communicating with Blissymbolics. Toronto: Blissymbolics Communication Institute.Ochs, E. (1979). Transcription as theory. In E. Ochs (Ed.), Developmental Pragmatics. London: Academic Press.Sigurd Pilesjö, M. (2012). Organizational patterns of interaction between children with severe speech and physical impairment and their everyday communication partners. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Southern Denmark, Odense.Higginbotham, J. & Engelke, C. (2013). Tutorial: A Primer for Doing Talk-in- interaction Research in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. AAC- Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 29(1), 3-19.von Tetzchner, S. & Hygum Jensen, M. (1996). Augmentative and Alternative Communication: European perspectives London: Whurr.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date21. Jul 2014
    Number of pages3
    Publication statusPublished - 21. Jul 2014
    EventThe International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communications Biennal Conference - Lissabon, Portugal
    Duration: 19. Jul 201424. Jul 2014


    ConferenceThe International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communications Biennal Conference


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Extended Role of the Communication Partner in AAC interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this