Ontario, Canada


A Quarterly Magazine Published by Blissymbolics

Communication Institute Toronto

Winter 1983

Vol. 1 No. 1



A courtroom triumph

ith addy hels ee eee


Justin Gives to us All

Vol. 1 No. 1 Winter 1983

Published quarterly by Blissymbolics Communication Institute

Executive Director: Shirley McNaughton

Editor: Patricia Thorvaldson Managing Editor: Ann Kennedy Advertising: Lorne Mitchell Illustrations: Audrey King

Cover: Line drawing by Diana Gurley. Justin Clark gives his land- mark courtroom testimony using Blissymbols. The drawing is based on a sketch of the trial by Jewell Graham of the Canadian Broadcast- ing Corporation.

BCI wishes to recognize and thank the following organizations for their support in sponsoring sections of Communicating Together:

—Pilot Club International, Ontario District

—Sir Joseph Flavelle Foundation, Toronto, Ontario

—Tippet Foundation, Ontario

—Rotary Club of Willowdale Com- munity, Willowdale, Ontario

—Arnold B. Irwin, of Irwin Toy Ltd., Toronto, Ontario

Back Issues: Limited number available, $5. Canadian funds.

Subscription Rate: $20. per year Canadian funds, $15. per year U.S. funds. Bulk orders of 50 units @ $10. per unit - $500. Canadian funds.

Direct correspondence regarding subscrip- tions, back issues, contributions, sponsoring, advertising, address changes and bulk mail- ings to:

Communicating Together

Blissymbolics Communication Institute 350 Rumsey Road

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4G 1R8

Copyright® 1982 by The Blissymbolics Communication Institute, 350 Rumsey Road, Toronto, Ontario Canada

M4G 1R8.

International News Blissymbols in Italy Internship at BCI/ACS

Family and Community Expressing Emotions

Sharing Ideas with Nora

Teaching and Learning Blissymbol Camp Morning Program Total Communication in Hamilton Teaching the Blissymbol Alphabet The Blissymbol Alphabet Stories

Perspective An Interview with David Yoder

Research and Publications Ingredients for a Good Picture

Machines, Computers and Things The Synthetic Speech Revolution

Blissymbol Talk

Augmentative Communication The Second International Conference on Non-Speech Communication

Schedule of Events Readers Write

Communicating Together is published quarterly as a means of sharing with their families, communities and the professionals who work with them, the experiences, systems and techniques of non-speaking people. Special attention is given to the non- reader's augmentative communication system and the role of Blissymbolics.

The Blissymbolics Communication Institute was established in 1975 to facilitate the use of Blissymbolics as a communication system for non-speaking persons around the world.

BCI Affiliates and Information Centres are situated in

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec

United States: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota

Other than North America: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Venezuela, West Germany, Zimbabwe

Through BCI and its Affiliates, over 8,000 instructors have been trained worldwide.

Blissymbolics is a system providing comprehensive communication for the non- speaking non-reading person. It can be used with a variety of picture systems and tech- nologies, and with traditional orthography offering a basic structure for the non- reader's augmentative communication system.

Blissymbols used herein are derived from the symbols described in the work Semanto- graphy, original copyright® C.K. Bliss, 1949.

September, 1982, C.K. Bliss granted an exclusive, non-cancellable and perpetual, world- wide license to the Blissymbolics Communication Institute, for the application of Blis- symbols, for use by handicapped persons and persons having communication, language and learning difficulties.

The symbol composition and drawings appearing in articles are in accordance with Blis- symbols for Use, compiled and edited by Barbara Hehner, and published by the Blis- symbolics Communication Institute, Toronto, 1980.

Justin Gives to us All

by Shirley McNaughton

On November 26, 1982, Judge John Matheson of the Lanark County Court in Perth, Ontario, stated, ‘In a spirit of liberty, the necessity to understand the minds of other men and the re- membrance that ‘not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded,’ I find and de- clare Matthew Justin Clark to be men- tally competent.’’’ So ended what has been called a ‘landmark case for the rights of the handicapped’ and the first court case in Canadian history in which Blissymbols have been used by a witness to give testimony.

Described as moderately to mildly retarded and severely disabled, Justin Clark was admitted to Rideau Regional Centre for the Retarded in Smiths Falls, Ontario, at two years of age. In 1974, at 12, he met Carol McLauchlan, who taught him Blis- symbolics for the next six years. Learning a way to communicate changed the world for him. Justin's mastery of Blissymbolics enabled all those around him to recognize that an alert mind lived within his dis- abled body. To anyone who would listen, he poured out the many,

many questions that had been stored

up for years.

At the age of 18 (legal age of adulthood), a Rideau Centre psy- chiatrist certified that Justin Clark was able to make his own decisions about matters affecting his life.

Justin's father, Ronald Clark of Ottawa, concerned for his son's future, filed court action to have him declared mentally incompetent under Ontario's Mental Incompe- tency Act. In the ensuing highly publicized, week-long case, Justin told the court, through his Blis- symbol board, that he believed he was capable of making choices for himself.

At the end of the trial, Judge Matheson challenged Canadians to look beyond an individual's physical disabilities to his or her total capacity for learning and develop- ment in a decision which was not only a legal landmark but the seal on a triumph of the human spirit.

ag ae ili

Justin with his friend Normand Pellerin. Photo courtesy Toronto Star Syndicate.

“Who will make decisions for you, Justin?”

l i

My experience as Justin's court in- terpreter was a very moving one. During my own testimony, when I was asked to explain the use of Blis- symbolics, I felt overwhelmed by the vast amount of knowledge needed by the judge, the lawyers

and Justin's family if they were to truly understand the young man before them in the courtroom. They had so much to consider: his eighteen years in an institution for the mentally retarded; his severe physical limitations; his inability to speak in a way they could under- stand; his ‘new to them’ communi- cation system; his unique and spe- cial world perspective; his enquiring mind, eager to learn, yet deprived of normal opportunities and experi- ences. They had to learn, too, of the

new and emerging resources and support systems for the physically disabled and the community living arrangements springing up in many regions.

I did my best to describe and explain the capabilities, require- ments and effects of Augmentative Communication. Yet, when I left the witness stand, I was filled with doubt. How much of what I had tried to communicate could be really understood in such a short time?

Then it was Justin's turn to ‘speak.’ Although formally desig- nated as his interpreters, Katherine Commodore of the Rideau Regional Centre and I were actually his very careful ‘listeners.’ I made it clear to the court that we would be transposing his message into spoken English rather than interpreting the message Justin would be conveying through Blissymbols, gestures and words. We knew the importance of this testimony and how critical it was that we not miss or alter any information he wished to transmit.

I will never forget the reaction within the courtroom the concen- trated attention for more than an hour as Justin pointed to his Blis- symbols and I spoke his messages. One could feel Justin's intense con- centration reflected within everyone in the courtroom. Then, his testi- mony finished, a standing ovation led by Justin's family climaxed what was surely a rare moment of high human endeavour.

Justin had come a long way since his first encounter with Blissymbols. He had achieved a communication capability that allowed him to defend his personal rights in a court of law and in so doing had champ- ioned the right of all physically dis- abled persons to be evaluated by their mental abilities, not by their physical disabilities. I left the court- house feeling the highest respect and admiration for Justin and those who supported him.

The Gift of Understanding

Those of us who work in the field of rehabilitation regularly exper- ience the joy of giving to indivi- duals. But Justin has moved beyond us; his courage has reached across Canada and given to everyone. His steadfast belief in his own worth,

his conviction that he must be

allowed to make his own decisions

about his life and his unswerving loyalty and love for family and friends, has bestowed new insight and understanding upon us all:

—To his many friends, Justin gave a sharing and caring companionship, and the courage to persevere throughout the long months of legal preparation.

—To his care-givers, instructors and social workers at Rideau Regional Centre, Justin gave the oppor- tunity to work through the struc- tures of their setting and demon- strate the profound effect of human support even within a large institutional facility.

—To his family, Justin gave trust and loyalty matched with the in- dependent spirit of all 20-year- olds.

—To people who have never thought about the many disabled, non-speaking people living their lives in institutions, Justin brought the strengths and concerns of this group into bright public view.

—To everyone in the community, Justin gave vivid proof of the miraculous potential for growth

that is part of every human being.

And, just as we always gain bountifully as we give, I wish that Justin may receive:

—The gift of time, to learn and to grow in whatever situation he chooses to live;

—The gift of friends with whom he can gain personal respect and companionship; and

—The gift of a family able to give him the love and understanding he has given them.

Our New Understanding

In Justin, we have witnessed the power of one non-speaking person who is determined to communicate to those around him, and we have witnessed the effect this can have upon the world both his and ours.L]

We have recognized a gentle, trusting, believing spirit and very much a thinking human being who has a unique part to play in our compassionate interdependent

society. Judge Matheson November, 1982


A Fragile Tree Has Roots

by John C. Walker

Thinking proudly,

They don’t understand Throwing your mind to the sky Just as the sun is rising.

Try to realize, : A life with chains and double locks This body of mine.

Fifty poems in an exceptional book of poetry by a young man who has never walked or spoken.

Filled with compassion, understanding and courage.

Beautifully designed; in hard cover.

Now available from: (Canada)

Blissymbolics Communication Institute

350 Rumsey Road

Toronto, Ontario M4G 1R8 Telephone: (416) 425-7835 (United States)

EBSCO Curriculum Materials Box 1943

Birmingham, Al. 35201

Toll free: 1-800-633-8623

Communicating Together applauds ARCH (Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped) for helping

Justin learn of his legal rights and for providing legal counsel so that he might defend those rights.

International News


Blissymbols in Italy

by Loretta Biasutti

Loretta Biasutti is a clinical psycholo- gist in private practice in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her work includes psychological assessment, behavioural programming, teaching and Blissym- bolics consultation.

When BCI first asked me over a year ago if I would be interested in teaching at two Elementary Blis- symbolics Workshops in Italy, my immediate response was an enthu- siastic Yes! What an opportunity, I thought. Born in Canada of Italian parents, I had visited Italy twice before; now I was being offered the chance to introduce Blissymbolics to a nation in which I felt deep roots.

My enthusiasm, however, soon gave way to panic. How would I manage in Italian? Though I had always spoken a Northern Italian dialect at home, my knowledge of formal Italian was based only on some high school classes and a bit of work experience in an Italian butcher shop. I knew how to trans- late ‘chicken’ and ‘cutlet,’ but not how to say anything like ‘psycholo- gist.’ However, after several frantic phone calls around town I was given the name of a woman willing to tutor me, and for six months we practiced conversation, studied grammar and reviewed Italian trans- lations of the Elementary Workshop materials.

The arrangements called for two workshops, one hosted by La Nostra Famiglia, a treatment centre for the handicapped operated by the Little Apostles of Charity, and the other by the City of Milan. During the period in which the arrangements were made, I exchanged many letters with Dr. Aurelia Rivarola, the workshops’ principal organizer, and a co-presentor, which helped me feel more confident. Then, as soon as I stepped off the plane in Milan, all my fears were forgotten. Dr.

Rivarola was warm and personable, and my Italian was better than I had thought. We plunged right into our preparations for the first course, and once we began talking about our common interest in Blissymbols, any remaining language or cultural bar- riers were dissolved.

We also discovered the strengths and limitations of Blissymbol use in Italy. I realized, for example, that the system cannot, as I had naively assumed, be applied in a non- English-Speaking country without modifications and additions. There were also serious gaps in vocab- ulary: where were the symbols for pasta, pizza and sweater? Symbol users and instructors objected to using the same symbol for both coat and sweater, since almost everyone in Italy seemed to wear lightweight sweaters except in summer. So much for my theories about hot- blooded Italians!

In the evenings, Aurelia and I spent hours discussing the fine points of translation. In the process of deliberating over the best choice for the translation of a particular symbol, we were forced to analyze meanings of English words, Italian words and the Blissymbols them- selves. As a result we both have an increased appreciation for the work


La Nostra Famiglia Blissymbol Workshop

of the Blissymbolics Communication Institute in developing vocabulary to meet the needs of symbol users around the world.

The workshops themselves full of lively discussions and disagree- ments were among the most sti- mulating I’ve ever attended. The other participants marvelled at what they saw as total dedication in Canada to increasing the indepen- dence of the handicapped from a very young age, while I marvelled at their truly multidisciplinary ap- proach to the needs of the child: specialist physicians, researchers, therapists and parents all attended the workshops together. There were, however, more similarities than dif- ferences in our concern for integra- tion and for community acceptance of the handicapped. ‘Tutto il mondo e paese’ (The world is a global village) became a motto for everyone.

Pina Gennaro, the speech thera- pist instrumental in developing the use of Blissymbolics in southern Italy, came to Milan for the last two days of the second workshop (Pina and Aurelia are collaborating on the translation and publishing of the Italian materials), and we took the opportunity to discuss some trans- lation details. I deeply appreciated

Pina Gennaro watches intently for the symbol message.

Pina’s willingness to assist with the final workshop presentations when Aurelia had to leave to be with her very ill mother.

I will carry with me forever the intensely personal moments, both happy and sad, that brought me closer to the people I met. I espec- ially treasure these memories: studying Blissymbolics by candle- light with Aurelia during a brief power failure; joining in an impromptu singalong with the sisters at La Nostra Famiglia; laugh- ing with the participants at some of my hilarious language errors; com- forting Aurelia following the death of her mother. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to meet so many fine people while expanding my understanding of Blissymbolics.


And in Southern Italy...

While efforts have been directed toward the training of instructors in northern Italy, intensive program development has been underway in

the south. For example, at the Consorzio Siciliano di Riabilitazione (Sicily Rehabilitation Centre), Catania, Italy, Blissymbol users have been instructed by BCI Senior Pre- sentor and Affiliate, Pina Gennaro; translations of instructional mater- ials have been completed; negoti- ations for the publishing and distri- bution of materials have been made; and a Blissymbol department composed of two therapists, a teacher and assistants, has been established.

In June 1982, an Elementary Training Workshop was held in Catania, with Ena Davies, Senior Presentor from Great Britain, joining Miss Gennaro to teach instructors. Since that time, Miss Gennaro has been busy sharing her growing knowledge at many conferences in Italy, such as the International Con- gress in Vercelli. One highlight for Miss Gennaro came Jast fall when ten Blissymbol users at her Centre received their first communion each with his own Blissymbol cate- chism for the event!)

Internship at BCI/ACS

by Sachi Tamura

Sachi Tamura is an instructor in the Augmentative Communication Service and is the co-ordinator of the BCI Internship Program.

The BCI/ACS Internship Program gives professionals an opportunity to be part of five typical weeks in the lives of the Augmentative Communi- cation Service people, who occupy one wing of the second floor at the Ontario Crippled Children's Centre. In the fall of 1982, the interns taking part were Fleur Lynn, a speech therapist from New Zealand; Peter Breitenbach, a teacher, and Monica DeBoorder, a physiothera- pist, both from Switzerland; Miguel Toledo Gonzalez, a doctor, and Pilar Such Acin, a psychologist, both from Spain.

Applications for internship usually begin coming into the BCI office as early as January, though many letters, information packages and telegrams are exchanged before the new interns finally appear on the doorstep of OCCC in early No- vember. (Funding arrangements undertaken by interns involve them . in many months of planning and preparation.)

Once in Toronto, a full schedule awaits them. This past year they were able to share the excitement, challenge and success of the Second International Non-Speech Confer- ence (see p.21). During their stay, the interns had the opportunity to contribute to a Blissymbolics Ele- mentary Workshop as the first step in their training to be presentors, and spent time with Augmentative Communication Service people learning about client services, assessment procedures and the microcomputer applications program. They also followed consul- tants through typical sessions with clients (pre-schooler to adult) con- cerning program implementation and parent/teacher training.

Every moment was an opportunity to gain new information. Obser- vation of programs outside OCCC were scheduled as well, giving interns an opportunity to see a range of augmentative communi-

cation services in other settings, and to search library and audiovisual re- sources. Finally, time with BCI staff was scheduled, to help prepare all interns for the leadership and re- sponsibility they will undertake in their home countries in the areas of training, publications, research and symbol development.

BCI/ACS internship provides five busy, exciting weeks that can only happen because ambitious com- mitted individuals take the initiative and find the means to come to North America for study. They only happen because busy professionals stretch their already full schedules to include the interns in their pro- grams, and because people like the Laing family, Mrs. Flo Graham- Smith and Brenda Thistle provide reasonably priced accommodation and help the interns feel at home away from home.

What better way to learn about providing service in Augmentative Communication than by concen- trated, day-to-day involvement? Hopefully future programs in New Zealand, Switzerland and Spain will show that the intensive effort put into these five special weeks has been more than worthwhile.L


New software package developed by the Trace Research and Development Centre of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Allows user to produce Blissymbol messages: - Spoken

- Printed

- TV display

order from

Blissymbolics Communication Institute, 350 Rumsey Road,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4G 1R8. Package: $45.00

Manual only: $30.00 Canadian Funds

In U.S.A.: - order from

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314 Waisman Center,

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Package: $35.00

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In Canada: -

Family and Community


Expressing Emotions with Andrew and Mark

Andrew Murphy of Toronto has been communicating with Blissymbols for several years. In this column, ap- pearing in each issue, Andrew and his father Mark share their experiences and those of other families with the special perspective of people who com- municate in a special way.

In ‘Perspective’ (p.16), Dr. David Yoder stresses the great differences between the kind of interaction pos- sible for those who speak and those who use an augmentative communi- cation system. Nowhere is this dif- ference more apparent than in the expression of emotion. Here’s how we feel about emotions from three different perspectives.

From Andrew:

Before Christmas, my dad and brothers were invited to see a hockey game at Maple Leaf Gar- dens. The special part about it was that they were going to sit in one of those special boxes way up on the top and be treated like kings. My sister had been in the box to see the Ice Capades and said it was ‘neat’. She said you could see what was happening on the ice, and there was also television and drinks and food.

OG hb xo«

A |, ow

I was very excited to go myself, but my parents explained to me that I couldn't go because there were too many steps and it was too difficult to get my wheelchair up there. So I got angry and started to scream. My parents wondered why I was

screaming. They asked me if I understood why I couldn't go, and when I said yes, they said they felt I should understand and be quiet. But I was still angry and I still felt like screaming. Finally, my mother said it was fine and that I could scream if I wanted to; that it was natural for me to want to scream when I was angry. After twenty minutes of screaming, I felt a little better.

Oi bo

ke ae S

Another emotion I have special difficulty with is excitement. When I get excited I bite my lip and some- times it makes me cry. My parents don't know whether I have a prob- lem or whether I'm excited. It's hard to find out if I'm excited before I bite my lip because sometimes I don't even realize I am getting ex- cited. So once I bite my lip every- body is confused about what hap-

This section of Communicating Together is sponsored by Pilot

Club International, Ontario District.

pened and it takes a long time to sort it out.

One emotion that's easy for me to express is happiness, because you can always see it in my eyes and my smile. I don’t have to use my Blis- symbols to show people I'm happy.

From Mark:

Many of us, both as users of Blis- symbols and as parents, know the deep emotion that is felt when a child is first able to use Blissymbols. It is generally the first time a child is able to initiate a conversation rather than responding to a question with a yes or no. Of course, we are all different in this respect; some people have great difficulty expres- sing their emotions while others are very emotional. It is, however, much more difficult for Blissymbol users to express emotion, especially when trying to express the degree of the emotion: are you a little sad or very sad; a little angry or very angry? Pointing out needs or com- municating facts with Blissymbols is much easier than communicating emotions. Trying to communicate emotions is often accompanied by some and sometimes a great deal of frustration.

When Justin Clark became the first person ever to use Blissymbols in a courtroom, there was no con- fusion about the emotion he, and everyone witnessing the case, felt. Justin's squeal of joy reinforced the emotion he tried to communicate with his Blissymbols, and the positive feelings felt by those in the courtroom, especially the reporters and the judge, were communicated daily in newspapers across the country. When the verdict was an- nounced in Justin's favour, over- whelming joy and happiness were felt by everyone.

We can thank Justin for making so many people in the community aware of Blissymbols, and we con- gratulate him on achieving his free- dom. We can all be justly proud of what Justin has done.

From Andrew's Teacher:

My students feel many strong emotions, many of which are ex- pressed at school. For example, they are sometimes frustrated, hurt and angry about situations in their homes over which they feel they

have no control: arguments between brothers and sisters and parents and children; brothers and sisters ex- cluding them from their activities; brothers and sisters neglecting to help their parents with shopping, clearing dishes, etc., when help is urgently needed.

Throughout their family life, non- speaking children experience the range of emotions felt by all chil- dren, but their ways of expressing these emotions are limited or dif- ficult to interpret. Talking it out at school often helps a little.

Sharing Ideas With Nora


Don't forget to write and let us know what your experiences are. We all want to hear and to share.

Interested readers please write Andrew Murphy, 29 Kellythorne Drive, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3A 2L5.

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Systems for the disabled

‘Sharing Ideas with Nora’ is a forum for sharing information concerning all aspects of Augmentative Communica- tion. Nora Rothschild, consultant with the Augmentative Communication Service of the Ontario Crippled Chil- dren's Centre, heads up this regular column focusing on readers’ questions, answers, problems and experiences.

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Dear Nora,

I teach a class of six non-verbal mentally retarded children. The entire class is learning Blissymbols and using them to communicate. I feel that the symbols for food, such as pizza, mustard, ketchup, etc., are important vocabulary items to intro- duce. However, the Blissymbols for these are so complicated that the children have difficulty understand- ing them. Can you give me any ideas?

Hoping to hear from you soon, Food for Thought.

Dear Food for Thought,

Thank you for sharing your problem. I think all of us working in this field have experienced a similar dilemma. As you know, it is pos- sible to combine and create your own Blissymbols (e.g., pizza is

round food that's hot). Still, depending on your students’ abilities and your own goals in teaching sym- bols, you might consider using an- other system to teach these words. For example, you may want to try using pictures from one of the many picture systems available Pic- syms, PICS, The Oakland Schools Picture Dictionary, Rebus, etc.*

Or, for some children it may be more meaningful to draw the item while the child is watching. The drawing doesn't have to be perfect. The important thing is that the child take an active part in the produc- tion; then he/she is more likely to remember the item. Our ultimate goal, don't forget, is to help the child communicate.

P.S. A note of caution: before us- ing any communication system it is important to have a sound basic knowledge of its capabilities. Also, before including several systems to- gether on a communication display, the instructor should be aware that different systems may call upon and promote different cognitive skills.


Dear Nora,

I am a speech pathologist in a large school. At the present time there are two Blissymbol users within the school, one child using symbols at a much higher level than the other. My time for seeing both children is limited to three half-hour sessions. Can I group them together? Would it benefit one, or the other, or both? Sincerely,

Pressed for Time

Dear Pressed for Time,

Thank you for your enquiry. You will need to make a decision whether to see the two children to- gether after considering their ages, interests, capabilities etc. However, I do think there are merits in group- ing the children. Depending on your goals, you might wish to organize the group sessions in order to give the children a variety of tasks. You

This section of Communicating Together is sponsored by the

Tippet Foundation, Toronto, Ontario.

could plan sessions that provide structured communication, offer some unstructured time just for con- versation, or you could try a blend of the two.

Hopefully, you will find that the better symbol user becomes a model for the less capable child, and that their sessions together provide an opportunity to introduce new symbols (which also just may offer incentive to the less capable symbol user). Group sessions can also be- come special times when the higher- level symbol user can feel successful and helpful. These children are usually helped by others; they don't often have an opportunity to be of help themselves.


I hope these suggestions have been useful. Be sure to write again if there are further questions or comments.

Readers interested in sharing ideas with Nora should address their corres- pondence to: Nora Rothschild, Com- municating Together, Blissymbolics Communication Institute, 350 Rumsey Road, Toronto, Ontario Canada M4G 1R8.


* Picture System Contacts


c/o Faith Carlson

Meyer Children's Institute University of Nebraska Medical Center

444 South 44 Street Omaha, Nebraska 68131 U.S.A.


George Reed Foundation for the Handicapped

Box 3400

Regina, Saskatchewan

Canada S4P 3W1

Oakland Picture Dictionary Communication Enhancement Center Oakland Schools

2100 Pontiac Lake Road

Pontiac, Michigan 48054


Peabody Rebus Reading Program American Guidance Service Inc. Publishers Building

Circle Pines

Minnesota 55014


Developmental Equipment’s

Portable Communication Board

Core Picture Vocabulary Cards not included.

This lightweight Portable Communi- cation Board opens to 21x 15 inches and folds to only 7x15 inches allowing the user to easily carry it on his shoulder by the handle. Our Core Picture Vocabulary cards, Blissymbol Flashcards, PIC train- ing cards and other card systems fit into the 3x 3 inch individual plastic slots. It can hold 48 (24 on each side) cards or 192 stickers and stamps. The cards can be arranged and rearranged according to the user's needs and progress. If the user is going to a particular place or event, cards relating to that situation can easily be slipped into the plastic slots for com- munication about that particular sit- uation. The Portable Communication Board is made from attractive fabric and is very durable.

Order the Portable Communication Board by sending a check or organiz- ational purchase order that is payable net 30 days in the amount of $26.50 plus $2.50 for shipping. Canadian orders must be submitted in U.S. funds and add $4.00 for shipping. If this product does not meet your expectations return it un- used within 7 days for a full refund.

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Teaching and Learning


The Blissymbol Camp Morning Program

by Barbara Collier and Marny Loach

Barbara Collier and Marny Loach were part of the team of consultants from the Augmentative Communication Service involved in the experimental Blissymbol Camp Program at the On- tario Crippled Children’s Centre. Barbara Collier gives an overview of the program. Marny Loach describes the morning school segment.

In the summer of '82, that familiar ending to so many old stories ‘Tired but happy, they all went home’ was changed to, ‘Totally exhausted, but very satisfied with all they had shared, they drove to homes far from Toronto.’ The ‘they’ in this more recent story were four young Blissymbol users (aged 4 to 7) and their families, who participated in the Blissymbol Camp Program, a pilot project organized and imple- mented by the staff of the Augmen- tative Communication Service in recognition of the special problems encountered by very young symbol users.

Held from August 16 to 27, 1982, at the Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre, the program involved the hospital staff (the children shared a room in the hospital wing), the therapy department (there were wheel-chair seating problems to be solved) and the ‘A’ Playroom staff, who carried the use of symbols over into a natural play setting during the less structured afternoon sessions.

The children were chosen because, living outside of Toronto, they did not have easy access to the Augmentative Communication Ser- vice. Also, despite the fact that all four children had a vocabulary of 100 symbols, none had ever met another symbol user. Their symbol programs were being implemented

at home and at regular schools (par- ents and teachers having been trained in symbol instruction).

Obviously the most important thing to do was to give these young children an opportunity to meet other symbol users. Important, too, was the need for the parents to learn that other ways of communi- cating gesture, vocalization and facial expression (already relied upon by the children) were to be responded to and encouraged. When introducing Blissymbols to a child there is a danger that the system can become mechanical; that too much attention will be given to the physical setup of the system (i.e., vocabulary, layout, teaching syntax and solving accessing problems), and that these can often be addres- sed at the expense of the most important factor interaction.

Interaction was the focus of our group. The children participated in a morning session where they were exposed to symbols through play, circle time, stories, news time, etc. They were also encouraged to inter- act in their own way while the ef- fectiveness of the Blissymbol system was demonstrated by the teacher and the other children.

While the children shared a room in the hospital, the mothers shared rooms in the nearby OCCC motel. Fathers, too, were encouraged to attend, although space constrictions did not allow them accommodation at the motel. The parents attended group sessions focusing on develop- ing improved interaction techniques, and in addition had the opportunity to observe their children through a one-way mirror.

Parents were taught how to take turns with their child, allowing the child an opportunity to interact, not only in conversation but in games and other activities. They were alerted to the importance of looking for a response from the child pausing, waiting and patiently

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Morning Camp children at ‘circle time’ with Marny Loach (l) and Cathy Fairley (r).

giving the child an opportunity to take his turn in communicating or in an activity. They were also given ideas on how to ask questions which would not limit responses to yes or no. The parents appreciated the chance to discuss their experiences and difficulties with a group of people who understood what it was like to have a physically handi- capped non-speaking child, and sup- ported each other as they discussed similar experiences.

The children, meanwhile, were introduced to computers and elec- tronic toys (for some, the computer will be a viable education and com- munication tool), and had an oppor- tunity to use them both individually and in a group setting. Everyone was encouraged by the children’s progress (they had begun to use longer and more complex sentences, giving us new kinds of information) and their renewed interest in com- municating with their symbols.

The two weeks were an exhila- rating, exhausting and most worth- while experience for the children, parents and staff. We look back on the Blissymbol Camp Program with

immense satisfaction. We know that the parents now have a greater understanding of how their child is communicating, and how they can help him. They also know that com- municating is the name of the game, and that the Blissymbol system is only one means to effective and meaningful communication.

The Morning School

Because the main goal of the morn- ing school time was interaction between the four symbol users, the 100-word vocabulary used by each child was checked for a core of common words. The children's shared vocabulary included people symbols, a few basic verbs and prepositions and symbols for transportation, clothing and buildings. As lessons were planned, it was de- cided to feature these symbols in a structured but natural manner. Circle time was necessary, both to

This section of Communicating Together is sponsored by Arnold

B. Irwin, of Irwin Toy Ltd., Toronto, Ontario.

share a common subject and to show how other symbol users com- municated with the teachers and with each other.

People symbols were introduced as family members were written in symbol form on each child's own poster story. As well, symbols de- picting wheels and the action to go were