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Language Development and Social Identity for an Adolescent Using Augmentative Communication

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This study examines transcript data from a research project to support inquiry into language use and social identity for an adolescent with severe disabilities of speech. Using the theoretical framework developed within the fields of applied linguistics and linguistic anthropology, this detailed analysis of interactions between conversation partners with significant inequalities in communicative resources shows how the adolescent’s help requests indicate growth in the areas of language development and social identity. A qualitative analysis of prompting techniques used by the adult conversation partner showed that the difficulty level of the prompts affected the adolescent’s responses during intervention sessions. The adolescent requested additional help with less-familiar technology and software applications, and also increased the frequency of her help requests for word finding during some intervention sessions. Using discourse analysis methods revealed how language development contributed to a local version of identity shared by the participants (Wortham & Reyes, 2015). Help requests reflected an increase in self-efficacy as the adolescent gained confidence in her ability to acquire help from an adult partner, especially when composing lengthy messages or using less-familiar technology. This study contributes to the literature concerning the transition of a student with severe disabilities of speech to secondary education.


Catherine Lipson    
San Francisco State University
United States

United States


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