Deaf teenagers with cochlear implants in conversation with hearing peers.

Tina Ibertsson, Kristina Hansson, Elina Mäki-Torkko, Ursula Willstedt-Svensson, Birgitta Sahlén

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study investigates the use of requests for clarification in conversations between teenagers with a cochlear implant (CI) and hearing peers. So far very few studies have focused on conversational abilities in children with CI. Aims: The aim was to explore co-construction of dialogue in a referential communication task and the participation of the teenagers with CI in comparison with individually matched hearing children and teenagers (HC) by studying the use of requests for clarification. Methods & Procedures: Sixteen conversational pairs participated: eight pairs consisting of a child with CI and his/her hearing conversational partner (CIP); and eight pairs consisting of an HC and a conversational partner (HCP). The conversational pairs were videotaped while carrying out a referential communication task requiring the description of two sets of pictures depicting faces. The dialogues were transcribed and analysed with respect to the number of words and turns, the time it took for each pair to complete the tasks, and the occurrence and different types of requests for clarification that were used in each type of conversational pair and in each type of dialogue. Outcomes & Results: The main finding was that the teenagers with CI produced significantly more requests for clarification than the HCs. The most frequently used type of request for clarification in all dialogues was request for confirmation of new information. Furthermore, there was a trend for the teenagers with CI to use this type of request more often than the HC. In contrast, the teenagers with CI used significantly fewer requests for confirmation of already given information and fewer requests for elaboration than the HC. Conclusions & Implications: The deaf teenagers with CI in the study seem to be equally collaborative and responsible conversational partners as the hearing teenagers. The interpretation is that certain conditions in this study facilitate their participation in conversation. Such conditions might be a calm environment, a task that is structured and without time limits and that the partner is well known to the teenager with CI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-337
JournalInternational Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified


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