This month we are celebrating International AAC month like many others around the world as can be seen from the ISAAC website
The Tawasol symbols team from Qatar ran a workshop for parents, therapists and people with Autism at the the Second National Autism Forum. The team stressed the importance of using culturally and linguistically appropriate symbols. Demonstrations were given on how to use Tawasol symbols to support communication and build vocabulary in a fun and exciting way through Tawasol game cards. The team provided the audience with free Arabic symbol resources in Arabic and English. The attendees were very excited to see and receive something that they believed represented their culture and religion and appeared very keen to start using the Tawasol resources.
In the photographs below you can see the Tawasol symbols on the attendees tables.
In the picture above Nadine is presenting whilst Dr Amal and Tullah were taking photos at this stage in the day. Everyone was given a pack of cards with Tawasol Symbols in Arabic and English, that can be downloaded from the resources page.
World map where Tawasol Symbols have been downloaded
There have been many debates about localisation and globalisation or internationalisation and the different requirements to support these ideas – W3C have provided definitions that fit the web and in many ways localisation can support concepts used on web pages namely customisation related to:
- “Numeric, date and time formats
- Use of currency
- Keyboard usage
- Collation and sorting
- Symbols, icons and colors
- Text and graphics containing references to objects, actions or ideas which, in a given culture, may be subject to misinterpretation or viewed as insensitive.
- Varying legal requirements
- and many more things.”
We have acted on many of the W3C ideas over the last two and half years and noticed that while we have been developing our symbols for an audience based mainly in the MIddle East many of those who have requested use of the symbols and downloads have come from as far afield as Sweden, Australia and India. We know some of these symbols have been for refugee groups and camps and others have been for religious symbols. Both these requests have led to an increase in the number of symbols we have produced in these areas and many have been seen on our Facebook pages.
But we are not the only ones making symbols for a wider audience and it is interesting to know that there have been requests that Apple should introduce emojis with women wearing the hijab with a petition gaining over 2,295 signatures seven months ago and headline news from the BBC and many others.
Many refugee organisations have booklets and charts with images to help those who do not speak the language of the country to which they are going. An example is the ICOON project which has many charts for download as PDF files. These images tend to be in monochrome but cover a wide range of topics.
Example of ICOON refugee charts freely available to download in PDF
Tawasol symbols are also available for download with charts in both Arabic and English and we have included religious settings and have an interactive version as a demonstration to illustrate the symbols in action thanks to The Open Voice Factory.
Sample prayer symbols from the interactive online communication chart