Kati  Pajo  
University  of  Helsinki  
Institute  of  Behavioural  Sciences  
 
Abstract  of  PhD  thesis  
 
Trouble  indicating  behavior  and  repair  in  conversation  between  hearing-­impaired  
individuals  and  their  familiar  partners  
 
Acquired  hearing-­‐impairment  in  adulthood  is  not  just  a  disorder  of  the  sense  of  hearing.  It  is  
primarily  a  social  disability  because  its  handicapping  affect  is  experienced  in  interaction  with  
other  people.  Therefore,  communication  therapy  is  consistently  needed  among  hearing-­‐
impaired  individuals  and  their  familiar  partners.  This  need  exists  even  though  rehabilitation  
of  hearing  in  form  of  hearing  aids  and  other  assistive  technical  aids  have  developed  over  the  
years.  It  is  a  well-­‐known  fact  that  not  everyone  who  fills  the  criteria  for  hearing  aid  
rehabilitation  uses  technical  aids  or  uses  them  properly.  But,  even  in  active  use,  a  technical  aid  
may  not  assist  as  much  as  hearing-­‐impaired  listeners  and  familiar  partners  would  wish.  This  
becomes  apparent  for  example,  in  conversational  breakdowns  or  more  precisely,  in  hearing-­‐
impaired  individuals  frequent  use  of  repair  initiations  (for  example,  questions:  ‘what’,  ‘who’,  
‘which  house’,  etc.).  
 
My  ongoing  PhD  thesis  uses  conversation  analysis  (CA)  to  study  dyadic  
interaction  by  adults  with  moderate  to  profound  hearing-­‐impairment  and  their  familiar  
partners.  CA  offers  a  robust  method  to  analyze  the  actual  empirical  features  involved  when  in  
a  coffee  table  setting  the  conversation  is  halted  because  of  misperception  or  
misunderstanding  and  repair  is  needed.    
 
The  thesis  aims  to  develop  communication  therapy  by  providing  empirically  
based  information  of  repair  sequences  from  home  environment  because  it  has  not  been  
researched  in  its  details.  One  central  focus  is  on  the  resources  hearing-­‐impaired  individuals  
use  to  indicate  trouble  with  repair  initiations.  In  relation  to  this,  another  area  of  interest  is  in  
the  local  contexts  prior  to  repair  initiations.  Thus,  the  thesis  is  guided  by  the  questions  of  how  
and  why  hearing-­‐impaired  individuals  produce  repair  initiations  while  interacting  with  
familiar  partners.  Towards  this  end,  a  multimodal  approach  to  analysing  repair  sequences  is  
taken.  Features  under  examination  include  not  only  lexical  and  linguistic  structures  of  talk-­‐in-­‐
interaction  but  prosodic  features  and  nonvocal  aspects  of  gaze,  facial  expressions,  gestures  
and  body  movements.  Furthermore,  the  overall  use  of  material  context  and  space  is  included  
in  the  analysis.  
 
Articles  are  currently  prepared  for  publication.