LTScotland reports on an interesting region-wide project to incorporate symbols into mainstream schools in Fife.
Fife Assessment Centre for Communication through Technology (FACCT) is a Fife-wide service supporting clients for whom speech is not their main means of communication.
Symbols are images which are used to make meanings clearer and easier to understand by providing a visual representation of a single word or a concept. It is important to understand that symbols are different from pictures. A picture conveys a lot of information at once and its focus may be unclear, whereas a symbol focuses on a single concept and by grouping them together more precise information can be conveyed.
Initially, staff became aware that using symbols consistently in a mainstream class was not only supporting a child with an identified learning disability but was meeting the needs of many children who had no recognised learning or communication impairment. Symbols packs were developed and offered to classes throughout the school and were quickly taken up by other members of the teaching staff as they realised the benefits they brought to pupils’ overall development.
There is a consistent approach to the symbols used in all the establishments involved. This ensures that pupils transferring from one environment to another are familiar with any symbols in use, no matter which establishment they are in.
The chosen symbol software package used to create the resources was Mayer-Johnson’s ‘Boardmaker’.
Examples of the use of symbols include:
• anti-bullying materials •
rights respecting schools information
• conflict resolution methods
• ‘goal -plan -do -review’
• The Mathematics and Home Economic Departments began using symbols to help pupils establish a routine once they entered the classroom. This supported a positive ethos within the classroom.
• Directional symbols are being developed to help S1 pupils and any visitors to the building
• Symbols are used in the main reception area of the school
• Pupils use personalised symbolised timetables.