Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Communication Symbol System

I was hanging out one day in our school and I found some really old stuff like floppy disk and these diskette binder sheets. I looked at these sheets and inspiration struck!! I didn't have any disks hanging around but I did have some binders. 

I serve on our school augmentative assistive tech team. I love it because I learn so much collaborating with some brilliant minds. A colleague on my augmentative team taught me about using partner assisted scanning-PODD (check out the video about this later in this post). 

I have students that have severe multiple impairments that I want to engage using calendar box systems. They all have wonderful interveners. These students are at the basic level of using symbols. Most of my students in this situation have CVI. I think using the partner assisted scanning system is a great fit for several of them. I came up with this binder symbol idea to help prepare them to use the partner assisted scanning technique and to incorporate  more language (using symbols) into daily routines. Enter the diskette binder sheets!!
**The pictures are from a prototype trial. You could easily use a different color binder. White may not be the right color binder background**

Communication system for blind kids
Here's the "how to":
1. Make symbols using pictures, real symbols or a combination of both. The real object symbols are helpful for basic level students because it allows the tactual feel to the picture. Consult your CVI matrix to help with progressing student to picture only. 
2. I like arranging the pictures landscape. The pictures in this post are portrait because it was a better fit for the particular student. 
3. Place velcro on the front of each pocket (this allows you place the symbol on the outside/front of the pocket). I would discourage your from keeping the pictures inside the pockets because it washes out the symbol. (See both above and below pictures).
4. The goal is to use the binder symbol system to train the student to look at choices and then to make them. They are placed at opposite corners on purpose. The opposite corners are to help with identifying a clear choice for students (if placed too close together, it could potentially be too difficult for the adult to interpret the choice). 
5. Use blank disk sheets for instruction. As you can see from the pictures, it is visually confusing to place choices (in front) with the other symbols in the pockets (see example picture below). I included this picture to point out this confusion. 

Binder communication system for blind kids

Here are some examples of the real object symbols. The top picture is the student's Eagle Eyes symbols. We were lucky to get the actual wiring that is used. The bottom picture is for the weekly music therapy. The black background is an excellent visual choice for the symbols.

communication cards for blind kids

Check out the partner assisted scanning technique. I have watched several YouTube videos on this and this is a great one for our students. If you watch other videos, you can see that this strategy can bring a lot of language to use. The students learn the system and can anticipate where the pictures are. The binder symbol system is a very basic way to pre-teach the skills needed to advance to the partner assisted scanning technique. Students may just keep working at the binder symbol system level as well.