Designing symbols that can work with other open licenced symbol sets.

voting criteriaWe have been having exciting times this summer setting up a series of AAC modules to introduce some of the ideas we have about making open AAC symbols accessible to all and to offer a voting system for localisation of some of the images that really do not fit some cultures and fail to represent AAC users’
home settings or personal needs.

We have written some voting survey instructions that we hope will help you to discover a way of making the symbol choices as democratic as possible.  You can upload a draft set of symbols that you feel need to be discussed with anyone interested in their use.  They can become part of an online survey with easy accesptance levels
on a scale of 1-5.   The process makes seeing where issues are arising easy with a chance to mark the look and feel of a symbol or whether it represents a chosen label, colour contrast is good and cultural concerns are highlighted. There is also a chance to gather general comments.

It is interesting to see that Carole Zangari discussed the idea of “Using Multiple AAC Symbol Sets and Systems with AAC Learners: Considerations for Thoughtful Interventionists” in August 2017.  She confirms that from a “learning perspective, it makes sense to have a consistent symbol type across the expressive tools that the client will use.”  However, we have found that many of the symbols in some of the main open symbol sets can be used in many different settings, such as everyday objects or some foodstuffs such as fruit.  So perhaps there is a case for learning which are the symbols that really need to be designed for local use and personalisation?

Designing for consistency and use of the same symbols across all devices, charts and keyring etc is important for a young user just starting out on the AAC journey.   So having chosen a particular symbol set, the task of developing new symbols is more about creating a similar look and feel with clear guidance about size, transparency and format  (download Word docx).
Then being comfortable that the new symbols will work alongside the symbols that cross cultures and finally to ensure that the symbol really is easy to learn – so guessability ratings are high wherever possible when thinking about early intervention.