Presentation on theme: "Communication Friendly Schools Sally Millar CALL Scotland, University of Edinburgh 20 November 2009."— Presentation transcript:
Communication Friendly Schools Sally Millar CALL Scotland, University of Edinburgh 20 November 2009
CALL Scotland Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning Specialists in communication and assistive technology to support children who have communication and/or writing difficulties. CALL works both with individual referred pupils and in training and capacity building in schools and local authorities.
A Curriculum for Excellence To enable all children to develop their capacities as: successful learners confident individuals responsible citizens effective contributors to society. A Curriculum for Excellence: The Curriculum Review Group (2004) Language/Communication is a fundamental competence underpinning all four capacities
Communication is much more than just a pupils performance with speech or writing interact participate Pupil voice heard
Communication – the Big Issue! Up to 60% of autistic children have significant communication problems. ICAN research reports that over 50% of all children entering school in the UK have some kind of difficulty with speech, language and communication. Around 10% have communication support needs persisting beyond Primary Difficulties with language input and comprehension may be overlooked in schools, where emphasis is on expressive performance and on literacy. Language and communication issues impact on every aspect of learning, literacy, personal and social development– and later life chances and quality of life. (J. Law 2007). Difficulties with language/communication are closely linked with literacy difficulties Nisbet & Aitken (2007) estimate about 15% of all pupils in Scotland have some kind of print disability (incl. VI)
Rationale for CFS Communication is a two-way process Its a whole school responsibility, not just an ASN teacher or SLT job for/with one or two individuals How schools communicate to / with all pupils and families is important How individual staff members communicate day to day with individual pupils is fundamental.
Communication Friendly School In a communication friendly school - All barriers to communication are removed, to provide a safe and accessible learning environment for everybody. Supports are provided so that every pupil can make sense of his/her environment, understand others, be as independent as possible, express him/herself to the best of his/her ability, participate actively and have his/her voice heard.
Imagine this: You find yourself inside a building in a foreign country. There are no clocks and your watch is missing. You dont speak a word of the language and no one appears to understand you. Each room in the building looks alike. You wander from room to room trying to get out, but your situation feels increasingly alien. Eventually a person puts you in a room and tries to get you to perform a task … A Nightmare Situation 1.How do you feel? 2. How does it affect your learning and task performance? 3. What would help you?
How does it feel?
= Inclusion and Accessibility Not just for special schools/units and pupils with complex ASN Not just about ramps and lifts! Can be about - Reducing anxiety, supporting self-esteem and confidence Promoting pupil independence Supporting learning Increasing pupil participation Supporting transitions
So yes – its vital for Pupils that have been diagnosed with - ASD speech, language, communication impairments learning disability - but its also valuable for -
are new – in transition – dont know their way around, or routines, lack confidence have attention difficulties find change difficult, require consistent structures and routines do not have English as first language experience little language / social stimulation at home (apart from TV…) have limited life experiences have difficulties reading written text seem to process information slowly do not seem to retain/remember information find it hard to follow directions and instructions have difficulties organising themselves and following through with tasks are primarily visual learners Children (& parents) who -
Visual Environment Objects, Signs, Photos, Pictures and Symbols can: provide a context make ideas more concrete support understanding of language stimulate ideas provide focus scaffold conversations support visual learners Input
Taking News home to family
Nursery / Home school Diary Child writes own news diary as she goes through the day by marking all the things she is doing, and which she likes. Symbols provide a shared conversation prompt for home
Low Tech is NOT no cost Staff training and staff TIME are the most important Practical - EASY TO USE Digital Camera Computer Basic Picture / symbol software (Boardmaker or equivalent) Access to images on internet (unblock filters) Memory sticks, CDs etc. Laminator & laminate Colour Printer cartridges++ Velcro (plus Velcro Policy) Plastic pockets, display booklets etc. Display boards around school Low Tech Communication Kit List
Useful Symbol Software BoardMaker V.6 / BoardMaker Plus! + Symbol Addenda (2006, 2008) Widgit Communicate series – Communicate in Print, SymWriter, WebWide Both now offer Mayer Johnson Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) AND / OR Widgit Literacy Symbols – rich resource, but potentially confusing
Symbol Software Good Practice Questions Do staff know WHY they are using it? Do staff know the difference between PCS and PECS? Can staff make materials (eg. worksheets, choice boards, symbol supported reading books) or just print out single symbol labels? Is the software used IN SCHOOL BY SCHOOL STAFF? (ie. NOT waiting for SLT to make materials!) Is there a communication / symbol policy across the school? Standardised & consistent symbol choices? Are staff given TIME to make use of the software? Do staff share materials?
Creating symbol supported, accessible materials
Computer (with ICT technician help so it behaves EXACTLY as needed, network issues addressed etc.) Easy to Use picture/symbol bank for making paper materials- for staff to use ie. Boardmaker or equivalent, eg. Widgits Communicate in Print) Interactive symbol Software for children to use – on IWB/plasma screen, and/or switch access eg. BoardMaker Plus!, Clicker 4/5 + PCS metafiles or other Switch interface + switches as necessary Easy to use software templates for making Passports, Talking Stories, Social Stories eg. PowerPoint (NB. BM Plus!, SymWriter, Clicker 5 could also be used) Communication Software Kit List
visual timetable PECS voice output aid symbol worksheets symbol communication book symbol news sheet signage reminders choice boards exit pass social stories
old diary / new diary Classroom timetables need to be personalised & interesting Uninspiring….
Objects of Reference Timetable transition to symbols
Choices (vertical/pink) within fixed timetable (horizontal/blue)
Bathroom prompt strips
Handwash prompt strip at sink
Visual behaviour and learning management strategies Learning to wait…
Pupil Voice What Matters to me! Posters Child is central and involved
Basic Symbol Passport Symbolised Passport sheet
Classroom / Curricular Areas Visual Timetables Symbol Labels in classroom Picture / Symbolised Lists, instructions for all activities Symbolised Social Stories Symbol supported text in reading for information / enjoyment Symbolised worksheets
In other words…. Difficulties with communication are very widespread in schools. Difficulties with communication in schools include pupils with ASD but also spread much wider. Many measures that are good practice in general for pupils with communication support needs are also supportive for pupils with ASD. Many of the measures that support pupils with ASD are also supportive for a wide range of other pupils with other types for communication support needs. Teams need to see THE BIG PICTURE and work together The most efficient way is for schools to raise the benchmark Well, for the local authority – or why not all of Scotland??
How to do this? We need BOTH - Top down Scotland-wide vision Linked with national curriculum for excellence, inspected by HMIe Whole authority School Senior Management commitment School policy School improvement plan Modifying the school environment, staff behaviour and expectations Setting up an infrastructure, with Designated coordinator Bottom Up Individual pupil(s) needs, as assessed Individual staff members awareness, commitment and skills Resources, tools and strategies (including technology, software) Establishing a person responsible for generating materials Time to develop materials
The Principles Management - Senior Management commitment Environment – – The physical environment is barrier-free, and supportive – Hardware and software in place to create and renew materials Identification of Needs – School, staff, pupils in general, individual pupils Development – CPD for staff on different kinds of communication support needs in pupils, and to improve their own communication – Visual supports are throughout the school – All school literature is accessible Partnerships – Pupils Voices are sought and taken account of – Parents – Other agencies, especially SLT – Local Authority, other schools
CFS - Evaluating Progress One, Two & Three star system
Environmental & Sensory Issues General – signs, directions, colour coding, labelling, adequate work spaces, conversation spaces, calm spaces Visual – reduce visual clutter that distracts; good light; provide visual supports Acoustic – awareness of distracting background noise, provide quiet spaces, Technological – computers are accessible to all; speech feedback, symbols available, multimedia / multiple format approaches for teaching, learning, recording, assessing. Planning new builds, especially PFI schools – remember Communication Friendly School principles and build them in from the start – cant easily add later!
Photographs of staff with their names on a welcome board in the foyer. Wherever possible mount photographs into pockets to accommodate staff changes.
Doors to each room display photograph / name of adults.
Doors Welcome and name of each room or class on door. All labels are at eye level height and therefore can be easily seen. Push and pull signs on all doors using symbols to demonstrate push and pull action.
Displays Having photographs, symbols and symbolised text on displays around the school enables all students to have access to what is written. Text can be kept to a minimum when symbols and photographs are used. Using photographs to support the display makes it more interesting for everyone.
Symbolised text on displays in corridor. See communication friendly materials at
Fife Assessment Centre for Communication through Technology Symbolising the Environment A Whole School Approach An inclusive, whole-school initiative, which began in one school and is now being replicated in 85 other schools in Fife.
Using Symbols Symbols were widely used in special education, but in response to the presumption of mainstream schooling, there was a need to establish effective, inclusive practices. Symbolising the environment is a structured approach to communication for all.
Past problems…… Boardmaker was suggested to school staff as a method of supporting several children with additional support needs within the school by Speech and Language therapy and by FACCT. Symbols were traditionally provided by visiting staff, e.g Speech & Language Therapy and FACCT – delays were common! It was apparent that children were not motivated to use a system in isolation.
Teachers found it difficult to create opportunities for one child in a class using symbols. Symbol use focussed on particular children. Use was sporadic, developed by external agencies and generalisation was difficult. Past problems……
Ah-ha moment!! The LS teacher noted that all the children in classes where the symbols were introduced benefited from their use in a variety of ways, therefore challenging the previously held perception that they were only for those pupils with a recognised additional support need.
Spreading the word…… Fife Senior Education Manager gave his approval and backing for school trials (12) Headteacher and proposed Coordinator attend initial meeting hosted by FACCT and ASIST (Autistic Spectrum Information & Support team) Schools sign up to project…… Schools include project in School Improvement Plan Designate Coordinator and Generator (+ TIME) Training package BoardMaker software and Starter pack of symbols Criteria and accreditation Sharing Resources
Bronze Criteria Environmental labelling – doors – breakout areas – entrance hall Classroom labelling and organising – trays – cupboards – classroom areas Visual timetables in all classes and used daily
Choice making activities – Golden time – storytime – Snack Self regulation – scripts Big Deal/Little Deal Curricular supports – checklists – Jolly Phonics Self registration Information – newsletters etc Silver Criteria
Maintain standard from Silver and Bronze Symbols in use throughout the whole school – evidence of their daily use within every class Resources developed for dissemination to others e.g. PLPs All school literature, booklets etc to have symbol support where appropriate Gold Criteria
Host visits from other schools and keep records Participate in future training courses to give a coordinators/ generators perspective Support pupils advocacy in terms of preparation for planning/transition meetings etc. with symbol support. Support further symbol initiatives within the school e.g. development of Talking Mats, Personal Passports etc. Maintain the Gold standard (annual check)
Follow-on initiatives Assessment is for Learning – explanatory leaflets – symbol supports
Curriculum for Excellence
Communication Friendly Schools If you would like to know more about, or might wish to join, the developing idea of establishing a Scotland-wide accreditation scheme of whole school approach to best communication practice, please contact:
The Context Disability Discrimination Act / Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 A Curriculum for Excellence
Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 introduced planning duties to Scottish local authoities: To improve access to the curriculum To improve access to the physical environment and increase access to education and associated services To improve communication and delivery of information for disabled pupils The law says…
Whole School Communication Policy examples ation%20Policy.doc ation%20Policy.doc crosoft%20Word%20- %20Communication%20Policy.pdf crosoft%20Word%20- %20Communication%20Policy.pdf centre.hostinguk.com/assets/Resources/Northants% 20AAC%20Jun08_5_865.doc centre.hostinguk.com/assets/Resources/Northants% 20AAC%20Jun08_5_865.doc alCommunicationPolicy.pdf alCommunicationPolicy.pdf
Communication Input Output
Creating visuals to make the environment meaningful for children with language comprehension difficulties or difficulties with auditory processing. Input Technology used for:
Misconceptions Visual Timetables, TEACCH work stations, use of pics and symbols to structure the day, labelling and displays etc. are GREAT BUT they are communication INPUT - only half the battle – The child still needs to be provided with tools for communication OUTPUT
Augmentative and Alternative Communication AAC A means of expression using methods other than, or additional to, speech (commonly, several different methods are used) Low Tech Simple Tech High Tech Output
Low Tech Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a specialised form of AAC (not an alternative to AAC) based on behaviour modification principles teaches child to request spontaneously child learns to find a communication partner helps to establish initiation of communication Output
PECS Issues? PECS has helped many children It is a good communication strategy, but its not the only one There are many functions of language as well as requesting, eg questioning, objecting, expressing opinions etc. Being able to talk about past and future is important. Peer to peer communication is difficult PECS is not appropriate for all Progress with PECS is dependent on good vocabulary development Many children should move on from PECS more quickly than they currently do The number of symbols needed can be problematical as vocabulary and sentence construction increase The motor planning of manipulating symbols can be burdensome for some PECS is not a full scale expressive communication system
Talking Mats Powerful Technique Joan Murphy of Stirling University, talks to Greg about how he would like to spend his weekdays, and where he might like to live after he leaves college.
Photo of a completed Mat acts 1) as a record of the childs views 2) as evidence of consultation process Talking Mats Partly input, mostly output. Also Evidence
Misconceptions Talking Mats IS A great way to consult children for their views on one specific topic A good way to help to focus the child and hold his /her attention A good way to reduce linguistic and motor pressures, to get at meaning BUT - IS NOT a communication system in itself
Low Tech Expressive Communication Tools Diary sheets Topic boards Communication books Communication charts Output provide a bank of language for child to use (recognition is cognitively easier than recall) provide physical communication tools for the child to use
Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA) Simple /Medium Tech Single message devices, sequenced single messages Multiple message devices, few/more/many see Output
Single Message Devices Good for - Repetitive line in stories Active participation News Calling for help / attention Dozens of ideas here:
Sequenced Message Devices Good for - social stories stories & songs news instructions
Multiple Message Devices 1. Simple message devices, 2, 4, 8, 9, 20,32 locations, with recorded / digitised speech (so pre-programmed phrases) 2. Complex, powerful VOCAS & communication software (synthetic voice, open ended communication)
Most Useful for mobile users Springboard Lite / Vantage Lite (LAMP = language acquisition through motor planning) See Handhelds – Jive!, Tellus Smart etc.
New Generation of VOCAs ProxTalker = talking PECS See
It takes two to – Tango!
Affordable mainstream devices Proloquo2Go (P2G) on iPod Touch or iPhone TaptoTalk On Nintendo DS Lite or Nintendo DSi