Showing knowing

Negotiating about epistemics in interaction between persons with intellectual disabilities and professionals

Authors

  • Leealaura Leskelä University of Helsinki

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.19075

Keywords:

persons with intellectual disability, epistemic negotiations, full participation, confabulations, Easy Language in interaction, conversation analysis

Abstract

Purpose: This article examines how persons with intellectual disabilities and professionals working with them manage interactionally challenging situations in which they negotiate epistemic authority. In each situation, the topic of the talk concerns something the person with intellectual disability knows best, such as their plans and hopes. Persons with intellectual disabilities are, thus, expected to show more knowledge about the topic than the professionals.

Method: The database for this study consisted of qualitative analysis of 16 videorecorded dyadic conversations between 12 persons with intellectual disabilities and 11 professional co-participants. The methodological approach taken was conversation analysis.

Results. Epistemic negotiations turned out to be quite difficult for the interactants. In these situations, the professionals resorted to three practices called renewed requests for confirmations, indirect challenging, and open challenge, which had different impacts on the epistemic authority and full participation of the persons with intellectual disabilities.

Discussion and conclusion: None of the practices proved to be unequivocally better or worse than the others, but all had features that seemed both to strengthen and to weaken full participation. The results of the study can also be used to foster professionals’ practical knowledge of how to deal with interactionally challenging situations in conversations with their clients.

Author Biography

Leealaura Leskelä, University of Helsinki

Leealaura Leskelä is a linguist who has worked as an Easy Language specialist with the Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities for over 20 years. During her career, she has been involved in the development of Easy Language guidelines and materials for persons with language barriers. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Helsinki, preparing her dissertation research on linguistically asymmetric interaction between persons with intellectual disabilities and professionals working with them. By means of conversation analysis, she seeks to provide new linguistic knowledge for professionals to use in interactionally challenging situations. Her recent publications include:


Leskelä, L. (2021). Easy language in Finland. In C. Lindholm and U. Vanhatalo (Eds.), Handbook of easy languages in Europe (pp. 149–189). Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Vanhatalo, U., and Leskelä, L. (2021). The hunt for the simplest possible vocabulary. Minimal Finnish meets easy Finnish. In C. Goddard (Ed.), Minimal languages in action. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Published

2021-09-06

How to Cite

Leskelä, L. . (2021). Showing knowing: Negotiating about epistemics in interaction between persons with intellectual disabilities and professionals. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 11(1), 26–51. https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.19075

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