Symbol communication systems

“There are many forms of symbol communication systems. Their purpose is to make communication easier for a child who has difficulty with spoken language and/or difficulty using written language. The symbols may be highly individual but are linked to meaning for a particular child.”

“A child with impaired vision may be able to use a system that uses simple line illustrations or photos with few details.”

“Tactile symbol communication systems are designed for a nonverbal child who does not have enough vision to use a visual symbol system.”

“Through a gradual process of linking the item to its symbol, the symbol gains meaning for the child. Symbols are also labeled with the print or braille word. This allows for exposure to print/braille. At some point, the written word may replace the need for the tactile or visual symbol.”

Wright, S., & Stratton, J. M. (2007). On the way to literacy: Early experiences for children with visual impairments. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication – 1-08837-00

This kit helps teachers create a tactile card system that is individualized for learners who are visually impaired and blind, who may have additional disabilities and/or lack a formal means of communication.

Paths to Literacy (March 17, 2015) Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Systems for Students with CVI & Multiple Disabilities, presented by Faye Gonzalez


Stacs: Standardized Tactile Augmentative Communication Symbols Kit – 1-08815-00

This kit helps learning partners (teachers, parents, peers, etc.) teach a beginning standardized vocabulary. Teachers then introduce additional individualized symbols as needed.


Expandable Calendar Boxes
Black – 1-08652-00 White – 1-08651-00

Boxes help students who lack a formal means of communication and literacy. They are closed-cell foam boxes that can be used singularly as an anticipation box or in a grouping as calendar boxes.

iPad Apps for early communication

Yes/No                                                                                                                                                                           By I Can Do Apps, LLC                                                                                                                                    Turns your iPad into a simple Yes (green smiling rectangle with “yes”) and No (red frowning rectangle with “no”) choice board with auditory feedback and one blink of the color.

Yes/No Button                                                                                                                                                            By Lakeside Llama, LLC                                                                                                                                Turns your iPad into a  “Yes/No” choice board. You may adjust to having only one symbol on the screen or both, in a vertical alignment. Both choices are red circles with the word in a simple white font. Auditory feedback and one blink of the color when activated.

My Talking Picture Board
By Little Bear Sees and Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children
Use your own photos to create arrays for choice; may change background for increasing complexity and add sound and movement

ChoiceBoard Creator                                                                                                                                             By Techno Chipmunk                                                                                                                                               Use your own photos stored on your iPad to create a visual choice making board. You may change screen from one to six choice photos. You may choose background color, photo size, audio play, randomize choice boxes.