Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Social Science


School of Psychology


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Professor Elizabeth Armstrong

Second Supervisor

Professor Caroline Taylor

Third Supervisor

Dr Deborah Hersh


Creating communication accessible environments is increasingly recognised as an essential component to facilitating the social inclusion of people with aphasia (a language disorder after brain damage), (Cruice, 2007; Duchan, 2006; Duchan, Jennings, Barrett, & Butler, 2006; Howe, Worrall, & Hickson, 2008 ; Pound, Duchan, Penman, Hewitt, & Parr, 2007; Simmons-Mackie & Damico, 2007). There have been suggestions that communication access principles in aphasia may also assist people with the communication difficulties associated with English as a second language (ESL) (Kagan & LeBlanc, 2002; Law et al., 2010; Worrall, Rose, Howe, McKenna, & Hickson, 2007). Currently, in Western Australia for example, ESL speakers are supported by interpreting and translation services (Government of Western Australia. Office of Multicultural Interests, 2008). However, there appears to be a gap in assisting the collaborative communication strategies which ESL speakers and public service providers naturally use to succeed in their interactions (McPake et al., 2002).

Interacting with government agencies is a common experience for many people. However, despite a growing body of evidence of the need for improved communication access, in Australia this knowledge has yet to translate into policies and supporting documents on access and inclusion. For these services to become socially inclusive, a multidimensional approach to communication access needs to be considered. This study explores whether there is any foundation to anecdotal information that communication access principles which support people with aphasia (PWA) also facilitate access and inclusion for ESL speakers. The findings of this study highlight the need for access and inclusion policies to recognise the broad principles of communication access to create environments which are more readily reached by people with reduced communication competency.

Aims: This study explored people with aphasia and ESL speakers’ perceptions of their face-to-face interactions with public service providers in Western Australia. The study investigated three principal questions:

  • What features appear to enable communication access?
  • What features appear to constrain communication access?
  • What do participants perceive to be the impact of these encounters?

Methodology: Using a sociological conceptual framework based on a social interactionism approach, the study will draw from the theories of Pierre Bourdieu, Erving Goffman and Anthony Giddens to construct an argument to illustrate how communication access is socially situated and can impact on identity construction, resilience, the negotiation of social capital and ultimately, social inclusion.