Reading with Symbols

Reading is so important to our kids with learning and communication disorders. Besides the picture books (non-fiction and fiction), there are current events that need to be explained or shared in a visual way. Video and TV help, but we need the visual connected with words to facilitate shared understanding.

Many students are 'prescribed' a piece of software called 'Writing with Symbols' available from Widgit. When you type, there are symbols that appear above the words to illustrate the meaning. By using different function keys, you can change the image to suit. This software allows you to make a template, and assists with communication.

One of my students uses this to type words she is learning and a visual appears. This has increased her independence in working on a task, and with support she is writing sentences. Our goal is that she is able to express herself in writing, as she has limited verbal skills. As a teacher, I need to find ways that the software is functional. Having the software is not enough, so I need to look for ways that the software is used to its full potential, but matches what my students need.

There is a subscription service available for a newsletter from the UK. Click here for a sample. There are different reading levels: Regular, Simplified, Higher, Advanced, Comboard, or Text only. There is a version that is Text to Voice, with the words highlighted. Currently, there is a sample one available on the Olympics in London. These can be downloaded in PDF version, and printed out. There are simple visual recipes, some communication visuals, and a worksheet task available. With a subscription, a new newsletter comes out every 2 weeks. A US newsletter is also available, with an American computerized voice for the text-to-voice version. Its article is currently on the Mars Rover.

It is a great way to provide current events at a fairly low cost.

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