TechShare Middle East taking place in Doha as this blog is being written has given the Arabic Symbol Dictionary team the chance to not only disseminate a year of initial research outcomes but to also collaborate with attendees and those who have become participants in the AAC forum. The keynote speech given by Kevin Carey was in the Gulf Times the following day.
The slides for the initial presentation given by Nadine Zeinoun from the Mada Center and Amatullah Kadous from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are available on SlideShare as a download .
A short Literacy skills survey + Arabic (MS Word download) given out during the workshop resulted in a discussions about the issues of teaching literacy skills in Arabic. We received a wide range of comments from personal descriptions of how a mother had taught her children to read using multi-sensory techniques to expert advice related to the use of symbols with students who have Autism and those who learn in a purely visual manner compared to the phonemic segmentation used by many teachers in the UK. The comments were noted at the time and, along with the questionnaire results will provide invaluable data for the way we offer the lexical entries in the dictionary.
We were able to gather people’s impressions of some of the new symbols Dana – our graphic designer had developed in the last week for prayer times and family members. We used the research carried out by Evans et al presented at ICCHP in 2006, as guidance for the way we presented the symbols. Comments ranged from the type of drawings being made to the colour contrast levels and significance of different Arabic cultures with nearly all participants wishing to have a system to go with the dictionary that would allow for the personalisation of symbols to suit each user. There is definitely going to be a problem about managing expectations!
Finally and rather quietly, the new logo for the Arabic Symbol Dictionary was rolled out on our poster presented at TechShareME and on the slides – here it is in case you did not notice it on the presentation above! Thank you Dana who has recently joined the team.
Evans, D. G., Bowick, L., Johnson, M., & Blenkhorn, P. (2006). Using iconicity to evaluate symbol use. In Computers Helping People with Special Needs (pp. 874-881). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.