Thanks to a note from Aejaz Zahid about an article on the BBC website we came across a wonderful example of how localised and personalised pictures can help those who find it hard to read or remember important items in their social setting. The article reminds one of the importance of knowing the local situation in which those with literacy difficulties or speech and language disabilities find themselves, and understanding the imagery that brings it alive. Being aware of personalisation and social circumstances cannot be stressed more highly with regards to the way symbols are developed but sometimes it is possible to use readymade versions to speed things up.
In the article titled ‘Spanish grandson’s doodles help grandma find phone numbers’ it is interesting to see that the grandson has used images that perhaps could have been taken from the ARASAAC set of AAC symbols which has been funded by the EU and the Government of Aragon in northeastern Spain, had he known they existed. Examples shown in the photographs include equivalent symbols such as a red cross for medical problems and a hospital, a vet for the dog and a mobile phone number.
The more we can spread the news about repositories that have freely available AAC symbols such as the English language OpenSymbols.org or the free application such as PictoSelector that offers a way of making communication boards from the symbol sets it holds, the more we can help people like Pedro Ortega’s grandmother.
We hope that our soon to be multilingual symbol dictionary, will be used by more people wanting these types of pictograms, symbols or images for supporting those with literacy difficulties and cognitive impairments as well as those who need augmentative and alternative forms of communication (AAC) in many languages.
Did I say multilingual symbol dictionary? Watch this space, we are developing, thanks to a UNICEF innovation fund grant, a way of being able to add new free symbol sets that can be seen in multiple languages – think open source and ConceptNet then possibly in the future AI and machine learning, for a glimpse into the technical side of the sorts of things we want to achieve! Crowdsourcing also comes to mind when errors need correcting and additions have to be added! These symbol sets will all be linked to their owners and we will be stressing the types of licences under which they are provided and hoping you will join us on this new adventure! Símbolos gracias a ARASAAC