Ida Fellows Publish Article on New Model to Represent Communication Partnerships


Ida Fellows Vinaya Manchaiah and Dafydd Stephens have proposed a new model to represent communication partners within the social context of a person with hearing loss. Their proposed model, “Communication World,” is based on the analogy of the solar system. They presented the model in a journal article in Audiological Medicine.

Manchaiah and Stephens were instrumental in developing Ida’s Communication Rings tool during our seminar series on Communication Partnerships. The seminar series explored the role hearing loss may have on an individual’s relationships and communication with friends, spouses and family members. The Communication Rings tool helps patients identify important people in their lives and consider how their hearing loss impacts their relationships with them.

Manchaiah and Stephens recommend modifying the Ida Communication Rings tool to improve its ability to represent the complex and dynamic role of communication partners. In their article, they identify three core elements of communication that should be included in a modified tool. These are: 1) frequency of communication, 2) emotional importance of the communication partner, and 3) the ease or difficulty of communication with that partner. They have included all three elements in their proposed “Communication World” tool.

“We thought it would be nice to put together something that could be a fun activity and capture information about an individual’s social context,” states Vinaya Manchaiah. “Communication is dynamic. We cannot show it in a simple way because communication, in terms of cognition, can change quickly. Therefore, we thought it would be nice to use the solar systems model. The central theme for the model is someone with hearing loss. People then come and go around us, and some people become more important to us at different points and times in our life.”

To follow up on the article, Manchaiah is currently exploring the different stages of the communication partner journey. He recently had the opportunity to interview a number of spouses whose partners had a hearing loss. He shared his preliminary findings with us.

“With a really small sample, I am finding that there are some spouses that have no problems. Their communication has not been affected greatly by the hearing loss. They seem to manage well. But, there are a few that may need treatment on their own. They, as the communication partner, may need support themselves. We as audiologists should possibly recognize this need and offer them support.”

We look forward to hearing more from Manchaiah and Stephens as they continue to explore the important role of communication partnerships. 

For more information, please see: Manchaiah, Vinaya K.C. and Dafydd Stephens. “Models to represent communication partners within the social networks of people with hearing impairment,” Audiological Medicine. 2011; 9: 103-109.

- Vinaya Manchaiah is Lecturer and Programme Manager of the Audiology Department at Swansea University.

- Dafydd Stephens is Honorary Professor of Audiological Medicine at Cardiff University and a Visiting Professor at Swansea University and the University of Bristol.

Tags: Communication Partners | Ida Tools | Research |


Can certainly see the merit of expanding the model to illuminate the closeness CP and frequency of communication; however the expansion of the orbital planets could complicate the picture for some clients

Communication is defined as the act of exchanging messages. Speech, as well as manual forms of communication carries a variety of component that structures the process. For one, syntax is the grammatical rule for language; semantics are the meanings of the word or sentence and their relationship to one another and last is pragmatics. Pragmatics is the basic rules to a conversation. When either communication partner experience difficulties with one of the above, as a result, communication breakdowns occur. Developments such as hearing loss and noise completion are elements that can potentially impede the fluency of a conversation. Communication partners are paramount in developing an effective AR treatment plan. Put simply, “It takes two to tango”.

There are range of methods and tools used by speech pathologist and audiologists in implementing AR treatments. The communication rings are a useful tool for identifying close communication partners in the patient’s life. Traditionally, the rings look like ripples made by throwing a stone in a pond. In the center would be the patient and the outer circles would encompass those communication partners in order of importance/how frequent they’re conversed with. Vinaya Manchaiah and Dafydd Stephens offer up a new take on this idea. Instead of the ripple model, they purpose a “solar method”. Differing from the first model, this method highlights the frequency of communication, emotional closeness, and whether or not there is a communication problem present. GPS’ are also useful in engaging communication partners in AR. These “Goal sharing for Partners” models are used for communicating realistic goals, shared responsibilities, and recognizing and accepting the limitations that come with a hearing loss.



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