When visual impairment leads to atypical and excluding classroom interaction

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

Visually impaired students (VIS) typically attend lessons with sighted students and are therefore supported by a professional assistant (PA), who helps interpret school assignments and translate them into non-visual forms. When VIS and their PA engage in such co-operative work (Goodwin, 2013), they may encounter issues that require assistance from the teacher. However, VIS and the teacher cannot have a joint visual attention (Kidwell & Zimmerman, 2007) towards physical objects constituting the school assignment, e.g., worksheets featuring text and calculations, that are central for the joint activity of reviewing VIS’ work (Goodwin, 2007). Consequently, VIS must rely on the PA and/or teacher to perform inclusive-oriented actions to be able to participate, thus establishing these situations as atypical compared to the typical joint visual attention. In this paper, we show how there occurs a shift in the participation framework (Goffman, 1981), whereby VIS are excluded from the joint activity of reviewing their work and thus learning-in-interaction. We do so by focusing on A) the opening of the encounter where participant roles for the reviewing-activity are established, B) how the teacher and PA’s practice of engaging with the assignment causes VIS to perform off-task activities, and C) the closing of the encounter where participant roles for the co-operative work are resumed. The paper is based on video ethnographic data collection (Heath et al., 2010) with video data and transcripts analyzed using EMCA (Mondada, 2019). The analysis shows how the PA takes on the local role of a “learner” that demonstrably differ from her institutional role as VIS’ “helper”. The analysis is used to discuss the phenomenon of visually impaired people being included/excluded and contributes to a respecification of atypicality as being a more multisensorial phenomenon, not only relating to speech impairment but also to other sensory systems, in this case visual impairment.

Keywords: Visually impaired students, participation framework, classroom interaction, social inclusion

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Goodwin, C. (2007). Participation, stance and affect in the organization of activities. Discourse & Society, 18(1), 53–73.
Goodwin, C. (2013). The co-operative, transformative organization of human action and knowledge. Journal of Pragmatics, 46(1), 8–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.09.003
Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., & Luff, P. (2010). Video in Qualitative Research. SAGE Publications Ltd.
Kidwell, M., & Zimmerman, D. H. (2007). Joint Attention as Action. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(3), 592–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.07.012
Mondada, L. (2019). Contemporary issues in conversation analysis: Embodiment and materiality, multimodality and multisensoriality in social interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 145, 47–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.01.016

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event Atypical Interaction Conference 2022 - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 202229 Jun 2022


Conference Atypical Interaction Conference 2022
LocationNewcastle University
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

ID: 307009284