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ERIC Number: EJ895969
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 5
ISSN: ISSN-0145-482X
The Selection of Tangible Symbols by Educators of Students with Visual Impairments and Additional Disabilities
Trief, Ellen; Bruce, Susan M.; Cascella, Paul W.
Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, v104 n8 p499-504 Aug 2010
Tangible symbols are objects or partial objects that can be physically manipulated and that share a perceptual relationship with what they represent, known as the referent. They make fewer demands on memory and representational ability, making them an appropriate expressive form of communication for individuals with visual impairments and additional disabilities who communicate at the presymbolic level. Although other communication forms, such as sign language, braille, and line drawings, have been standardized, little has been done to establish a standardized set of tangible symbols. Tangible symbols may be individualized or standardized. Individualized tangible symbols represent an experience of an object, person, or activity that is highly idiosyncratic to one child. Standardized tangible symbols often represent a dominant feature of an object, person, or activity that could be recognized by many children. It is possible to use the same tangible symbol for multiple children if they interact with the referent in the same way, making standardized symbol systems particularly relevant for experiences that are similar to a number of individuals. This article discusses the tangible symbols that special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and speech-language therapists (collectively referred to as educators) selected (from a standardized set of commercially produced symbols), the characteristics of the symbols that were selected, and implications for the development of a starter kit of standardized tangible symbols for use in schools. The selection of tangible symbols by educators is important to investigate because it highlights the topics that educators regard as important to the classroom context, giving insights into the kinds of communications that are expected from children at different ages. (Contains 2 tables.)
American Foundation for the Blind. 11 Penn Plaza Suite 300, New York, NY 10001. Tel: 800-232-5463; Tel: 212-502-7600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A