Sunday, July 29, 2012

Symbol Access in the Community

Many children and adults use symbol based language/communication systems to engage in daily interactions, access content, work, leisure etc.  In the United States and other countries, Braille is often available on public restrooms, ATMs etc. Most texts, newspapers & magazines can also be translated into Braille easily or other digital formats to be accessed. There are also audio and or video recordings available in many places so that people can access information. The next step we must take is to have symbols available so that people who use this form of language have better access. We already have universal symbols available for common concepts such as stop, restrooms, exit etc. We need to take this a step further. Many schools and organizations have been active in assisting in this. Please share your ideas, successes and stories. Symbol accessibility is critical. Some of the public libraries also contain adaptive materials which include symbols. We just need to push a little harder and make a difference step by step. Here is an interesting project in the UK which looks at making museums much More accessible. Access-Ability Communications Technology . Symbols are a valid form of language that needs to be recognized much more.


  1. I am almost feeling as though people who require symbols to communicate are being discriminated against? That might not be the right word, but if you think about it, language is made readily available for those who can read text, braille and even through audio output. Even at the bottom of this web page, there is a link to Google Translator that can make this page accessible to you if you spoke another language (there must be over 100 languages listed there too). But you never see symbols. This is holding so many individuals back from accessing information and being social with peers.

  2. Wouldn't it be great to be able to have the convert to symbols! BoardMaker has that potential as does Writing with Symbols and others. I wonder how hard it would be to integrate that into the translation box? I would think that it could be possible!

  3. I think that incorporating symbols into communities is a very important topic and one that needs to be thought about much more. There are individuals in all communities that would benefit from having symbols within a community not just those with special needs. If symbols were incorporated more in the community it would allow children to access information and expand on their language by using symbols. Most importantly incorporating symbols will allow those with disabilities to effectively access their community more independently. I think it becomes a justice problem because there are so many languages incorporated into communities that symbols must be considered.


    1. I agree that it would increase their independence. It will also reinforce their language and understanding of their world early on so that they can be more independent as you mention. It is not hard to do any of this.