AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
This paper may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists     Students
Type: Paper
Paper Title: INTERACTION: A NEW MODEL FOR ASSISTIVE COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
Author: CHRISTOPHER ENGELKE (University of California-Los Angeles)   
Date/Time: Wed., 8:45 PM
Co-Author(s): CHRISTOPHER ENGELKE (University of California-Los Angeles) 
Abstract: This presentation explores the ways that an interaction-based approach to communication has been used to develop InTRA, a new suite of “high-tech” Augmentative Alternative Communications (AAC) technologies to be used by people with speech-language disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy, ALS, autism, stroke, etc.). High-tech AAC devices are computerized tools that produce synthesized. Close analysis of naturally occurring talk-in-interaction was used to identify and address problematic interactional phenomena that occur within the temporal unfolding of AAC-mediated conversations, phenomena that have been unreflectively used to call AAC user’s communicative competence into question. I argue that these phenomena are rooted in familiar Euro-American language ideologies/models of language and personhood that were ultimately inscribed in the design of the AAC devices themselves. That is, because the designs for high-tech AAC devices have traditionally been based on a model of “communication” as information circulating between autonomous individuals—i.e. through a sender-receiver model—numerous shortcomings appear when these designs meet real world contexts. Opposing this, the design of the new InTRA suite follows advancements in theory from academic fields interested in issues of performance and interaction and is therefore grounded in an understanding of communication as an emergent phenomenon and multiparty accomplishment. As this product is quite new, it is still unclear as to how it will be taken up and extended into cross-ability experiences; however, by providing a discussion of an emerging assistive technology within a linguistic anthropological framework, this presentation hopes to facilitate critical thinking and discussion of potential future iterations and unintended ends.

Program Number: 1-0845
Session Title: DISABILITY CIRCULATIONS: FORUM ON THE EFFECTS OF DISABILITY ON CULTURAL INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGICAL INVENTION, AND SOCIAL PARTICIPATION FOR ALL MEMBERS OF SOCIETIES
Session Sponsor: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Wed., 8:00 PM-9:45 PM
Organizer(s): LAKSHMI FJORD (University of California-San Francisco) 
Chair(s): LAKSHMI FJORD (University of California-San Francisco)  
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