About

The aim of Global Symbols is to link and create freely available Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) symbol sets with other linguistically and culturally localised symbol sets to  provide both natiional and international access to appropriate pictographic based communication that can be used on any communication application. We have worked with several app developers who were supported by the  UNICEF Innovation Fund, in particular with Cboard and Jellow.

The symbol sets and other resources collected on this site are intended for:

  • languages that do not have localised symbols to support speech, language and literacy in health care, education and social communication situations.
  • all Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) users, their families and carers as well as professionals in the field interested in using symbols.
  • supporting low levels of literacy, learning disabilities or specific learning difficulties, where symbols can aid reading and writing skills.
  • helping with social interaction difficulties where symbols can act as prompts.

Symbols can also work in a similar way for those who acquire speech and language difficulties due to strokes and brain injury.  They have been used to support refugees in emergency situations and at times when there are challenges to using the spoken word.

If you want to create your own symbol set and share it with others please register to upload the symbols.

Where it has been felt that there is no need to generate new symbols for certain concepts or the symbol sets have a small number of symbols, you may find the concepts you want in the ARASAAC symbol set.  This set was used as the basis of the Tawasol symbol set thanks to collaboration with Centro Aragonés de Recursos para la Educación Inclusiva (CAREI).  ARASAAC symbols are offered under a CC (BY-NC-SA) Creative Commons licence but you may notice that some other symbol sets come with slightly different licences.  When sharing symbols with others, please abide by the licence under which they are provided and acknowledge the original owners of the symbol set. 

The Team and Associates

The Global Symbols team came together as a result of work on The Arabic Symbol Dictionary.  The Tawasol Symbols were  developed in 2016, thanks to the Qatar National Research Fund and all the participants in Doha, Mada – Qatar Assistive Technology Center. and Hamad Medical Corporation .   In 2018 Global Symbols became a Community Interest Company (CIC) and increased the number of symbols sets available.  We have also created free AAC Training materials and are aiming to build an online chart builder for use with the symbols sets.

David Banes

David Banes

David is director of David Banes Access and Inclusion Services and has worked with many well known international organisations having been part of the original Tawasol Symbols team as Chief Executive at Mada – Qatar Assistive Technology Center.

He is keen to see how freely available augmentative and alternative communication symbol sets can be developed to fit the local linguistic and cultural needs of those with speech, language and literacy difficulties as well as allowing for enhanced international social network communication.

Aejaz Zahid

Aejaz Zahid

Aejaz Zahid is an expert in Assistive Technology, Rehabilitation Engineering and Human Computer Interaction who has had research and development projects in Europe and USA having just returned from MIT. He was one of the original team members on the Tawasol Symbols project at at Mada – Qatar Assistive Technology Center. More recently he has been appointed a research and innovation fellow at the University of Sheffield working with the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare: CATCH and Barnsley AT Team – Assistive Technology Team

 

E.A. Draffan

E.A. Draffan

E.A. began her career as a Speech and Language Therapist working in a group of London Hospitals. The work involved supporting disabled people with a wide range of communication difficulties. She then worked in schools and colleges, specialising in the support of those with Special Needs whilst encouraging the use of assistive technologies (AT).  She is a member of the Web and Internet Science Research Group in ECS at the University of Southampton working with MSc and PhD students, supporting the development of accessibility applications and being involved with web accessibility initiatives and MOOC development.  E.A. was also one of the original team members working on the Tawasol Symbols and has since been collaborating with other AAC teams to support additional symbol development that meets the needs of local communities.

Russell Newman

Russell Newman

Russell has a PhD, MSc Web Science and BSc IT and Organisations and runs his own business and is an associate of Global Symbols.   He has developed degree-level modules on Web Development and continues to lecture on several subjects at the University of Southampton.  Russell has also been involved in digital accessibility projects for some members of the team for over ten years and more recently has spent time linking uploaded symbol sets to ConceptNet as part of a UNICEF funded project whilst building the management system for the Global Symbols website. He has extensive experience in IT support, web design and systems development.

Dana Lawand

Dana Lawand

Dana graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic design from the Lebanese American University of Beirut. Dana’s designs have been for advertising agencies where she has delivered the concept for a brand through various types of media that reflect the concept and vision. Given the opportunity to work with Mada making the link between graphic design and the work of the research project has many similarities when it comes to delivering its vision. Initially Dana worked on the project logo ‘Tawasol’ which in Arabic means ‘Communication’ followed by the design of additional dissemination materials and the symbols that needed to be added to the Arabic Symbol Dictionary. Participants on the project voted on Dana’s symbols and the results were very positive.  Since leaving Mada, Dana has continued her links with the original Tawasol Symbols team, as an associate of Global Symbols