When it comes to helping a child overcome their challenges in language development, there is almost nothing that a concerned parent or therapist would not do. The world of AAC is an innovative one that has brought forth many solutions, of which Symbol-It is the latest and greatest. But what makes Symbol-It so effective is that it is predicated on standardized solutions. When users download and use the app, they are utilizing the leading symbol systems that are recognized throughout the world in the most effective way possible.
It stands to reason, at least on the face of it, that two good things can be combined in order to make something even better. The clever ingenuity that’s inherent to the AAC community when combined with the popular Do-It-Yourself trend online holds promise in many respects. Finding new ways to introduce language development was what led to the creation of Symbol-It. But there is a danger to DIY projects that can be counterproductive at best with language development. At worst, it can be harmful to the learner.
Symbols to present language can be flexible once language is developed, however, when language is developing, the symbols need to be conventional. The leading symbol systems were not haphazardly created, but are the product of many long hours of study and research from language specialists. Using non-standard symbols in a customized symbol system does not prepare a learner for more complex communication than if one were to teach a child using non-standard words or grammar. Non-standardized symbol systems allow for participation, at the expense of language development. In truth, such a method ultimately sets the learner up for failure.
Beyond the confusion and alienation from prevailing standards, a DIY symbol system with custom graphics created through random clip art is going to interfere with expression of the most fundamental forms of basic syntax. For example, creating a symbol system with a popular graphic image template is going to restrict you to the use of only nouns. There is virtually no effective means to express an action verb through DIY graphical means. With that limitation in place, a DIY symbol system will not support complex sentences that consist more than a few words. When the average English sentence runs 15-20 words, it becomes plain to see how a DIY symbol system does not afford anywhere near the same advantages as a standardized symbol system created by language professionals.
In the end, Symbol-It was created in order to change the conversation with AAC by allowing people who are unfamiliar with symbol systems to be able to communicate with symbols. Symbol-It is committed to supporting the development of expressive language. Language development requires all parts of speech to progress to single words and on to sentence creation. If it were possible to achieve the same outcome of complex language expression through the use of DIY symbols, then Symbol-It would have taken that route. Instead Symbol-It proudly uses the leading symbol systems in order to unite symbol speakers with the world rather than further alienate them.