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three symbols designer, board and printer

E.A. Draffan

Thoughts about developing easy to access printable training materials.

The idea of print in this technological age seems to be a bit of a non-starter, but think about the last time you were trying to use a new program on your tablet or computer! You may like videos but it can be helpful to have a few pages of images and text to act as a reminder on how to use a particular app or software program.

When you have no WiFi and don't have mobile data to use on a network connection, once again a booklet with examples of a task can be helpful. But all the advice says that interactive materials can aid learning, so we need to be able to offer both. However, with the Churchhill Fellowship grant we are exploring paper-based ideas first as that was what was requested by several potential users.

We have been experimenting and discussing designs and content with those who have been working in COVID situations, in homes and those training others. In our previouse project we found there was a need for just-in-time learning and so we have been looking at other resources such as those provided by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the Stroke Association and many other providers, but have found there are no guidelines for the types of images and symbols that best help users. Meetings with those working directly with users has helped enormously and we have built some personas based on a mix of individual experiences to help with the designs of charts and different symbols.

The points gathered regarding training content and presentation seem fairly obvious to those working in the field, but perhaps they are still worth mentioning...

  • Robust and quick to view one-handed
  • Can be stored in a large pocket / bag
  • Easy to read and understand at any time.
  • No need for battery or wifi connections.
  • Quick to annotate and personalise by hand.
  • Provide plenty of examples and easy to understand diagrams.
  • English may be a second language.
  • Can be copied and laminated.
  • Use known formats and common page sizes for the download versions.

landscape and portrait charts

It seems when working in English, presentation slides in A4 landscape mode work best for some communication boards where phrases and sentences are being modelled (pointed to) often from left to right, although it depends on the number and size of cells required.

A4 portrait mode can be good for a column of single sentences with an image on the left for information charts. An A4 flip chart style ring binder may work with a small group, using sans serif fonts size 20+ with clear headings and sample symbols and images. We have made a document for AAC Symbol Design to help creators develop their own symbols on both paper and technology.

At the moment we are trialling some PowerPoint slides that will be available in several differnt formats such as Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF and as a download file. All the images will be copyright free and the content will be offered with a Creative Commons licence, as is the case with all our resources. As soon as changes have been accepted, we will asking for more help with more piloting.

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