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Communication partner´s other-initiations of repair in AAC conversation

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Aim. The aim of this study was to describe how participants orient to problems in AAC conversations. The main foci of the analysis were the productions of other-initiations of repair by the conversation partners and the problems these initiations indicated.

Method. The data of the study consisted of two videotaped conversations where one aided speaker, a 15-year old boy with cerebral palsy, talked with a speech-language pathology student (conv 1) and with his speech-language pathologist (conv 2). In these conversations the aided speaker used a computer-based voice output communication aid device with a touch-sensitive screen. Problems and how they were managed were studied using conversation analysis (CA) and one of its basic organizations, repair organization.

Results. Almost every other-initiation of repair in these data fell upon the problems in the aided speaker´s turns and were initiated by his conversation partners. These problems were related broadly to speech understanding, more precisely to the understandability of the utterances of the aided speaker. Main reasons underlying the trouble sources were conversation partners´ difficulty in understanding the meaning of the aided speaker´s whole turn or part of a turn, extra words or other mistakes in selecting symbols, or vague reference. Interpretation seemed to be explicitly on display throughout both conversations. It was used to indicate understanding of the AAC turns and to initiate repair when necessary.

Conclusion. In order to understand how to support AAC users´ human agency and active participation in conversation, more research is needed on different conversations and their different features.


Satu Kytöharju    
Valteri Centre for Learning and Training, Ruskeasuo School

Kaisa Launonen    
University of Helsinki


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