2006 Conference General Sessions
Kelly Fonner
1508 Dodge Street, Lower Level
Lake Geneva WI 53147   
Day Phone: 262-893-8053
Fax: 262-249-9269      
Email:  kfonner@earthlink.net
Presenter #2
Scott Marfilius 
855 W. County Line Road
Bayside WI 53217       
Day Phone: 414-379-7779    
Fax: 414-351-5127      
Email: marfilius@wi.rr.com     

This intermediate level lecture/demonstration will be fast-paced in its coverage of the features of the assistive technology systems that display symbols/pictures and when activated produce text into their typing screen or into any text-based program. Participants should come with a basic understanding of the use of symbols as a visual representation on palates, toolbars, grids and overlays. This session is not about which application is better; it is about how each product accomplishes its features to be used by the consumer and support persons.


Symbol systems are having a hot rediscovery period and they are often being linked to curriculum accommodations. There are a growing number of programs that are including symbols to text in their features. We will take a look at Inspiration and some of its lesser known rivals. As in the past, we don’t have a “favorite”, no “best buy”, no “this is THE ONE”.


This presentation opens with a discussion of the use of symbols to text programs in attempt to give people a context for implementation. But the majority of the session is filled with demonstrations of the features of the following symbols to text products to meet the needs of persons with cognitive or multiple disabilities.


Dedicated Symbols to Text Programs

  • BoardMaker Plus and Speaking Dynamically from Mayer Johnson
  • Clicker and Cloze Pro from Crick Software
  • Communicate in Print from Teach Grid
  • IntelliTalk, IntelliPics Studio and IntelliMathics from IntelliTools
  • PixWriter from Slater Software
  • Writing with Symbols from Widgit/Mayer Johnson


Non-Dedicated Symbols to Text Programs

  • Discover from Madentec
  • Grid from Sensory Software/Zygo
  • Intercom from Mayer Johnson/Widgit
  • OverBoard from Gus!
  • Overlay Maker from IntelliTools
  • Reach Interface Author from Applied Human Factors


We would like to stress that this session is not about which of the products is better or which has more features; it is about how the features are presented and how they meet the needs of consumers of technologies for reading. Throughout the presentation we hope to give a fair, unbiased view of each of the products, highlighting their strengths and differences.


Some of the features that we will look at include:

·         The use of symbols

o        Type of symbol

o        Inclusion of digital pictures

o        Importing other symbol systems


·         Organization of the Array

o        Color background, color symbol, color lines

o        Grouping of symbols

·         Activation of the Symbol Set

o        Direct selection through touch

o        Direct selection through mouse/mouse alternative

o        Direct selection through switches

o        Scanning selection from array

·         Step Scanning

·         Automatic Scanning

·         Auditory Scanning

·         The use of text

o        Text paired with graphics

o        Color & type of font

o        Spacing options of words, lines

o        Spell check

o        Word prediction while writing

·         The use of sound

o        Text to Speech capabilities

o        Auditory Cueing


We’ve noticed in our trainings and consultations that most people are using Clicker, PixWriter or IntelliTalk. We hope to have participants broaden their view of how products like these can be used to support, improve and increase the writing of students with cognitive or multiple disabilities. While we are demonstrating the products, we will also show practical uses of these features in the curricular activities of science, social studies/history and language arts.

Go to previous article
Go to next article
Return to 2006 Table of Contents