The background to this research into the development of a freely available Arabic symbol dictionary is based on the fact that there are very few freely available culturally suitable Arabic pictograms, icons, symbols or other graphical representations of language for use within the Arabic community for those who have a wide range of communication difficulties. There is a growing recognition about the number of individuals who can benefit from this type of support. Their needs are being met by the use of externally developed Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) symbol systems which are not entirely suitable for use within the Qatari culture or surroundings. Some commercially available symbol sets have added additional Arabic culturally recognizable symbols but these are not available to all users as the costs are high. There is also a significant gap in the knowledge around the type of individuals who can make use of pictorial symbol systems and how symbols can be integrated into education and daily life.
The symbols with their text equivalents in Modern Standard Arabic and where appropriate colloquial Qatari Arabic plus their English translation will not only support Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) users but also those who may have low levels of literacy, learning disabilities or specific learning difficulties, where symbols can aid reading and writing skills. There are also some individuals who have social interaction difficulties where symbols can act as prompts. Symbols may also work in a similar way for those who acquire speech and language difficulties due to strokes and brain injury. Symbols as indicators have value in supporting the understanding of Arabic for those with little knowledge of the language and symbols can also be used to assist with way finding or act as health and safety warnings in a way that is obvious to the widest possible audience.
Where it has been felt that there is no need to generate new symbols for certain concepts links have been provided to the ARASAAC symbol set available thanks to collaboration with Centro Aragonés de Recursos para la Educación Inclusiva (CAREI) and are offered under a CC (BY-NC-SA) Creative Commons licence.