SCHEDULES & COMMUNICATION CARDS
By: Carmen Willings
When creating a daily schedule for the students, it is important to incorporate routines (the parts of a class schedule that stay consistent), activities, and any special events. Post a written, pictorial and/or object schedule that is accessible to the students depending on their developmental level and primary and future mode of learning. The word (in print or Braille or both) paired with the object should be presented to the students at the beginning of each routine to help mark the transition.
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Use of Cues (Receptive Communication)
In order to follow a daily routine and to transition between stations, a student may need a cue from the teacher paired with a symbol to assist them in transitioning. Designing and using a consistent routine is the beginning of teaching cues. A cue is a type of communication used by an adult to let a student know what is expected of him in a given situation. Cues are a type of receptive communication. There are different types of cues that can be used:
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Communication System
Use of Symbols (Receptive or Expressive Communication)
Symbols are representations of an event, action, object, person, or place that can be used to communicate about the event, object, person, or place. Symbols can be used for both receptive and expressive communication. Objects, parts of objects, pictures, print, actions, gestures, signs and speech can all be symbols. The more the symbol resembles what it represents, the more concrete that symbol is. Learning goes from concrete (real objects), to manipulative (replicas), to abstract (symbolic representation).
Hierarchy of Symbols:
The students must have deliberate involvement with actual objects and be taught the association before replicas will have any meaning to them. After the student has enough of an image of “the real” to do comparative thinking about the identifying characteristics, replicas can start to have meaning.
Communicate with Objects
Use objects to help students begin to anticipate events when they are given an object associated with the event. Assist the student in using an object/toy to help sustain or request a social interaction with another person and take turns. Use objects for choice making and encourage them to locate and respond to the object when named or signed. Embed literacy opportunities by pairing objects or symbols with the print and/or Braille word to provide students with the exposure to written language.
Schedule & Communication Cards
I used the Tactile Connections Kit: Symbols for Communication from APH to create the following labels. I printed the labels in 18 pt font and printed on Avery address labels (two per label and cut in half to fit on the card). I used the clear adhesive sheets to add the braille (I chose contracted braille). Finally, I selected an object to represent each activity. Please remember these are just some possibilities and you should select materials that make sense to your student.
Tactile Connections Kit: Symbols for Communication. This kit, available from APH, helps teachers create a tactile card system that is individualized for students who are blind or visually impaired who have additional disabilities and/or lack a formal means of communication or literacy. Objects that can also be paired with words, are mounted on hand-sized cards representing core vocabulary categories.