Pros and cons of pictures vs. abstract symbols
In the past, communication aid users often had limited choices when it came to the pictures and symbols used for their vocabulary needs. Many kids with challenges such as Autism could sometimes have difficulty interpreting generic symbols that weren’t personal enough to seem related to their daily lives. And many adults felt that simple pictograms were not appropriate to their level of maturity.
That’s why, when we designed MyVoice, we built in great features that let users add personalized, real-world pictures to their vocabulary. With MyVoice, vocabulary and the images associated with them can be as personal or unique as you wish. For many of our users, it’s so important that the images be of actual things in their lives such as their bed, clothes, or familiar settings.
MyVoice still lets you import any “traditional” symbols systems such as “PECS” if appropriate, but you can also choose photos from your own files and take pictures through your mobile device if it has a built-in camera. So, for example, if a user is comfortable with a graphic representation of an apple, it can be used. But with MyVoice, you can also have every variety of apple in existence with a real photo and custom phrasing.
Recently, at a family dinner celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover, I was with my adult cousin with Autism. In less than two minutes on my iPhone, I created a list of Passover foods on the buffet and added actual pictures of the items. My cousin who loves food and has never used a touch device before instantly grasped the taps and swipes of the device and was gleefully choosing from the list of foods familiar to him but not normally found in traditional AAC aids and apps.
If you’d like some personal help trying these features out, please send me a message anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.