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Churchill Fellowship logo beside carer and AAC user plus laptop

E.A. Draffan

Updating the Carer's Training Pack for adults using images and symbols to support communication

Thanks to the Churchill Fellowship COVID-19 Action Fund we have developed a set of free resources to help carers build visual aids to support those who have speech and language difficulties in challenging situations such as the recent pandemic.

We know it is not just those who find it hard to communicate using their voices who may benefit from the use of pictographic representations of objects, people, actions and settings at various times. Symbols, icons, images and photos have the potential to help everyone when situations are challenging, such as when there is a conversation with someone wearing personal protective equipment or having to cope in noisy situations.
mobile cboard interface

Travelling around in countries where you do not speak the local language and trying to understand complex instructions etc can all become easier if we can see ‘easy-to-guess’ or descriptive images. However, some symbols we just have to learn over time! Look at the pictures and then the confusing words used when sailing, versus the floppy disk as a symbol that means 'save your work' more than ten years after it was no longer used on computers!
boat instructions and floppy disk

The Carer’s Training pack has been made available as an easy to understand series of steps to supporting non-verbal communication and can be downloaded as a set of PowerPoint training slides to be viewed with a script in the trainer’s notes. Each slide can be printed out in landscape with the training slide on the front of an A4 sized ‘Table Flip Chart’ and the slide with trainer’s notes flipped onto the back (printed landscape in ‘handout style’). This technique can be useful when working with small groups and there is no electronic presentation system available. Where there is an internet connection, the slides can be used online via Slideshare or downloaded, links are provided for looking up resources at a later date. The slides should all resize for use on mobiles and tablets. table top flip chart

The Moodle materials are available as one module called Communication using Symbols - A Carer's Training Pack There are five topics that can be dipped into at any stage and need no prior knowledge. They include:

  1. How we communicate
  2. Managing conversations
  3. Finding the right words and images
  4. Adapting images and symbols for each individual and
  5. Creating opportunities to encourage conversations.

There are some online activities, case studies and examples of communication boards and information charts.


Download links to:

Communication with Symbols - A Carer's Training Pack (PowerPoint Slides - trainer script in speaker notes)

Communication with Symbols - A Carer's Training Pack (PowerPoint Slides - trainer script in speaker notes and hidden activity symbols revealed for printing.)

Communication with Symbols - A Carer's Training Pack (PDF format for printing - toggle to see trainer annotations if you have Adobe Reader)

Board Builder Instructions (Microsoft Word document)

Symbol Creator overview (PowerPoint Slides)

Board Builder using different hair and skin tones (PowerPoint Slides)

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