In recent weeks Nadine has begun to develop communication boards that are using the Arabic Symbol Dictionary customised symbols alongside ARASAAC symbols. This is all part of the ongoing development and evaluation process with participants in particular AAC users whose opinions we are seeking. Examples are provided below as a slide share presentation and soon therapists will be able to download the sample symbols developed under a creative commons license.
Mohammed and Prayers
Introducing Mohammed, a 24 year old symbol user from Qatar who communicates using a Tobii eye gaze system. Mohammed has worked with a speech and language therapist to develop a personalised vocabulary that includes the use of localised and culturally sensitive symbols in particular those related to his religion.
Mohammed was finding it hard to take part in the daily prayers as a Muslim and felt isolated when other members of the family worked through the various actions and he had to sit quietly watching.
With the support of the Tawasol symbols Mohammed and his therapist worked through his exact requirements and were able to provide a way for him to take part in the prayers with his family that was both respectful and at one with that special part of the day.
When Mohammed was asked about his feelings concerning the new symbols he said:
“Now that I have my system and the graphics I can take a much fuller part in prayer, as each step of the prayer takes place I point my eyes at the symbol that represents that step. I sequence the images through my eyes as others sequence their movements. Its hard to explain how important this is to me, I know there are others who want to take part in prayer alongside their family and community. By working with people who understand, it can be a lot easier to do than you might expect.”
A further quote from the speech therapist indicates the way in which culturally and linguistically sensitive symbol systems can have a huge impact on AAC users.
“Building a system for communication is not just about the people communicating. Here in Qatar we share many daily experiences around our faith and culture, as therapists we are very good at helping people express their physical and emotional needs, but perhaps not so good at helping those that want to express their spiritual need, their belief and faith. it is so easy to ask the wrong questions, and hence never get those crucial answers if there is no common cultural experience.”
Maryam enjoying a weekend out
Finally Maryam has been able to tell her story using symbols that are much more relevant as would be explained at AAATE 2015 later in the year.