Coconstructing in Conversations Using a Communication Book


  • Irina Savolainen University of Helsinki
  • Anu Klippi University of Helsinki
  • Kaisa Launonen University of Helsinki



coconstruction, aided conversation, social action, interactional resources, multimodality, synchronization


This study describes the multiple coconstruction process of aided utterances that occur when non-speaking people use a communication book in their everyday conversations. Previous studies have reported that coconstruction is present both in the progress of pointing-voicing pairs and in the negotiation of meanings. Adopting the concepts and the tools of multimodal conversation analysis, this study demonstrates how two non-speaking boys and their speech and language therapists utilized simultaneously six interactional resources that were interwoven in different multimodal practices during their coconstruction of aided utterances. The observations elicited by microanalysis provide an insight into the temporal, co-operative and progressive nature of conversations that are constructed with a communication book. The findings of this study are helpful for professionals in assessing and scaffolding aided communicators during their conversations with their significant communicative partners.

Author Biographies

Irina Savolainen, University of Helsinki

Irina Savolainen is a speech and language therapist who has been working with non-speaking children and youths over 20 years. She has been involved in the development of communication books and technical communication devices in Finland. Now, she is a Ph.D. student at the University of Helsinki. The focus of her dissertation project is on the progress of aided conversations.

Anu Klippi, University of Helsinki

Anu Klippi is an emerita professor of speech and language pathology at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her main research interest is the study of impaired interaction and conversation from the viewpoint of speech and language therapy. She has studied how verbally impaired people communicate and interact in conversation. Her research focuses on multimodality and on multisemiotic systems in conversation, inter alia the interaction between speech and other semiotic systems such as nonverbal behaviour.

Kaisa Launonen, University of Helsinki

Kaisa Launonen, PhD, is a speech and language therapist by her education. In her clinical work she has worked with people with intellectual disabilities and their families and other environments. Her main research interests are early intervention, quality of life and intervention of people with the most severe communication disabilities, and augmentative and alternative communication, manual signs and other unaided communication forms, in particular. At present, she works at the University of Helsinki as a university lecturer and the director of the BA and MA programme in logopaedics.


Auer, P. and Hörmeyer, I. (2017). Achieving intersubjectivity in augmented and alternative communication (AAC): Intercorporeal, embodied and disembodied practices. In C. Meyer, J. Streeck, and S. Jordan (Eds), Intercorporeality. Emerging Socialities in Interaction, 323–360. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Batorowicz, B., Campbell, F., von Tetzchner, S., King, G., and Missiuna, C. (2014). Social participation of school-aged children who use communication aids: The views of children and parents. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 30: 237–251.

Binger, C. and Light, J. (2008). The morphology and syntax of individuals who use AAC: Research review and implications for effective practice. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 24: 123–138.

Bloch, S. (2005). Coconstructing meaning in acquired speech disorders: Word and letter repetition in the construction of turns. In K. Richards and P. Seedhouse (Eds), Applying Conversation Analysis, 38–55. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Clark, H. and Brennan, S. (1991). Grounding in communication. Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition 13: 127–149.

Clarke, M. and Wilkinson, R. (2013). Communicative competence in children`s peer interaction. In N. Norén, C. Samuelsson, and C. Plejert (Eds), Aided Communication in Everyday Interaction 23–57. Guildford: J&R Press Ltd.

Clarke, M., Bloch, S., and Wilkinson, R. (2013). Speaker transfer in children’s peer conversation: Completing communication-aid-mediated contributions. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 29: 37–53.

Clarke, M. and Kirton, A. (2003). Patterns of interaction between children with physical disabilities using augmentative and alternative communication systems and their peers. Child Language Teaching & Therapy 19: 135–151.

Drew, P. and Heritage, J. (1992). Talk at Work: Interaction in Institutional Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Enfield, N. J. (2013). Relationship Thinking: Agency, Enchrony, and Human Sociality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ferm, U., Ahlsen, E. and Bjorck-Åkesson, E. (2013). Spontaneous communication with blisssymbolics between mother and her daughter at home: What do they talk about and how? In N. Norén, C. Samuelsson, and C. Plejert (Eds), Aided Communication in Everyday Interaction, 281–314. Guildford: J&R Press Ltd.

Goffman, E. (1981). Forms of Talk. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Goodwin, C. (2000). Action and embodiment within situated human interaction. Journal of Pragmatics 32: 1489–1522.

Heath, C. and Luff, P. (2013). Embodied action and organizational activity. In J. Sidnell and T. Stivers (Eds), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis 283–306. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hedvall, P. and Rydeman, B. (2010). An activity systemic approach to augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative & Alternative Communication 26: 230–241.

Hidecker, M. J. C., Paneth, N., Rosenbaum, P. L., Kent, R. D., Lillie, J., Eulenberg, J. B., Chester, K, Johnson, B, Evatt, M., and Taylor, K. (2011). Developing and validating the communication function classification system for individuals with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 53: 704–710.

Higginbotham, D. J. and Wilkins, D. P. (1999). Slipping through the timestream: Social issues of time and timing in augmented interactions. In D. Kovarsky, M. Maxwell, and J. F. Duchan (Eds), Constructing (In)competence: Disabling Evaluations in Clinical and Social Interaction 2: 49–82. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Iwasaki, S. (2011). The multimodal mechanics of collaborative unit construction in Japanese conversation. In J. Streeck, C. Goodwin, and C. LeBaron (Eds), Embodied Interaction: Language and the Body in the Material World, 106–120. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Koivunen, A. (2012). Kommunikointikansio keskustelutilanteessa: Apuvälineen ja kumppanin toiminnan tarkastelua. [Interaction by means of a dynamic communication book – A look at the communication aid and the communication partner]. Master’s thesis. Retrieved from

Levinson, S. C. (2013). Action formation and ascription. In J. Sidnell and T. Stivers (Eds), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, 103–130. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lloyd, L. and Blischak, D. (1992). AAC terminology policy and issues update. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 8 (2): 104–109.

Mondada, L. (2014). The local constitution of multimodal resources for social interaction. Journal of Pragmatics 65: 137–156.

Nevile, M. (2015). The embodied turn in research on language and social interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction 48: 121–151.

Norén, N., Samuelsson, C. and Plejert, C. (2013). Dialogical perspectives on aided communication. In N. Norén, C. Samuelsson, and C. Plejert (Eds), Aided Communication in Everyday Interaction, 1–22. Guildford: J&R Press Ltd.

Norén, N. and Sigurd Pilesjö, M. (2016). Supporting a child with multiple disabilities to participate in social interaction: The case of asking a question. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 30: 790–811.

Norén, N., Svensson, E., and Telford, J. (2013). Participants’ dynamic orientation to folder navigation when using a VOCA with a touch screen in talk-in-interaction. Augmentative & Alternative Communication 29: 20–36.

Robillard, A. (1994). Communication problems in the intensive care unit. Qualitative Sociology 17: 383–395.

Ruusuvuori, J. (2013). Emotion, affect and conversation. In J. Sidnell and T. Stivers (Eds), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, 330–349. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., and Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50: 696–735.

Savolainen, I., Klippi, A., Tykkyläinen, T., Higginbotham J., and Launonen, K. (2020). The structure of participants’ turn-transition practices in aided conversations that use speech-output technologies, Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 10.1080/07434618.2019.1698654

Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence Organization in Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sidnell, J. (2013). Basic conversation analytic methods. In J. Sidnell and T. Stivers (Eds), The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, 77–100. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sigurd Pilesjö, M. (2013). On the use of bodily action and vocalizations as resources and methods when claiming and completing turns in aided interaction. In N. Norén, C. Samuelsson, and C. Plejert (Eds), Aided Communication in Everyday Interaction, 1–22. Guildford: J&R Press Ltd.

Sigurd Pilesjö, M. and Norén, N. (2017). Teaching communication aid use in everyday conversation. Child Language Teaching and Therapy 33: 241–253.

Sigurd Pilesjö, M. and Rasmussen, G. (2011). Exploring interaction between a non-speaking boy using aided AAC and his everyday communication partners: Features of turn organizing and turn design. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders 2: 183–213.

Stevanovic, M. and Peräkylä, A. (2012). Deontic authority in interaction: The right to announce, propose, and decide. Research on Language and Social Interaction 45: 297–321.

Stevanovic, M. and Weiste, E. (2017). Conversation-analytic data session as a pedagogical institution. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction 15: 1–17.

Stivers, T. and Sidnell, J. (2005). Introduction: Multimodal interaction. Semiotica 156: 1–20.

Sundqvist, A., Plejert, C., and Ronnberg, J. (2010). The role of active participation in interaction for children who use augmentative and alternative communication. Communication & Medicine 7: 165–175.

Todman, J., Alm, N., Higginbotham, J., and File, P. (2008). Whole utterance approaches in AAC. Augmentative and Alternative Communication 24: 235–254.

Trevarthen, C. and Aitken, K. J. (2001). Infant intersubjectivity: Research, theory, and clinical applications. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 42: 3–48.

VISK = Auli Hakulinen, Maria Vilkuna, Riitta Korhonen, Vesa Koivisto, Tarja Riitta Heinonen, and Irja Alho. (2004). Iso suomen kielioppi. [Big Finnish Grammar] Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Retrieved from: 12.3.2018

von Tetzchner, S. and Martinsen, H. (1996). Words and strategies: Conversations with young children who use aided language. In S. von Tetzchner and H. Jensen (Eds), Augmentative and Alternative Communication: European Perspectives, 65–88. London: Whurr.



How to Cite

Savolainen, I., Klippi, A., & Launonen, K. (2020). Coconstructing in Conversations Using a Communication Book. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 9(2), 141–171.