Object Communication Materials Bibliography

by DB-LINK on Feb 1, 2013
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This is a partial list of materials on this topic available from the DB-LINK Catalog Database.  If you have additional questions, please contact us via email:

Updated 2/2013


The Development of a Universal Tangible Symbol System --Trief, Ellen; Bruce, Susan M.; Cascella, Paul W.; Ivy, Sarah. JOURNAL OF VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AND BLINDNESS, Vol. 103, #7, July 2009, pp. 425-430. (2009) The purpose of this study was to identify a set of standardized tangible symbols from which educational teams could select symbols for the children they serve. Tangible symbols are objects or partial objects with characteristics (e.g., shape, texture, and consistency) that can be used to refer to a person, place, object, activity, or concept. They are deemed an important form of communication for children with visual and additional impairments at the presymbolic level. This study surveyed 29 teachers and speech language pathologists about their use of tangible symbols. They were asked to identify the tangible symbols they already use, new activities and concepts they would like to have tangible symbols represent, and their preferences for tangible symbols for 28 referents that were identifed in a previous pilot study. A 14-member advisory board reviewed and discussed the results of the survey and suggested the symbols they thought were appropriate for each referent. The respondents identified 48 referents for which they already used or needed a tangible symbol and the advisory board identified an additional 9 referents.


Measuring an Adapted Form of Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) for Young Children with Visual Impairments and Developmental Disabilities [Doctoral Dissertation] --Parker, Amy Tollerson. Texas Tech University. (2009) The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) has been shown to build the expressive communication skills of students with autism or developmental disabilities, but traditional PECS teaching strategies rely on the use of vision to access pictures, line drawings, gestures, or other visual supports. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of an adapted form of PECS, incorporating 3-D objects and uncontracted braille, to promote the development of functional communication skills for young children with visual impairments and additional disabilities in school environments. The study used a single-subject multiple baseline design to measure communication behaviors before, during, and after the intervention. Results indicate that two of the three participants were able to acquire the use of an adapted form of PECS for functional communication and that all participants demonstrated new communicative behaviors as measured by the Communication Matrix. This study expands the evidence for the use of PECS for a new population of students by providing preliminary data on the use of adapted materials and strategies.


NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION:  CUES, SIGNALS AND SYMBOLS --Durkel, J.C. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. (2002) Article offers definitions and description of non-verbal communication. A cue is a type of communication used by an adult to let a child know what is expected of him/her in a given situation. Cues are a type of receptive communication. Signals are movements the child uses to communicate needs, desires and feelings to adults. Signals are a form of expressive communication. Symbols are representations of an event, action, object, person, or place that can be used to communicate about the event, action, object, person, or place. Symbols can be used for both receptive and expressive communication. Objects, parts of objects, pictures, print, actions, gestures, signs, and speech can all be symbols. Available on the web:


Objects of Reference: Objects for Conversation --Janssen, Marleen. DBI REVIEW, #30, July-December 2002, pp. 11-15. The Origins and Development of Objects of Reference in Europe. (2002) In this article Marleen Janssen takes a brief look at the history of communication methods for deafblind people in the past and then focuses on the methods that inspired the staff at Instituut voor Doven in their work, past and present, to develop specialist provision. She discusses the people and the methods they used to support communication and the way in which objects of reference have been used in developing conversations with deafblind children. She provides lots of practical examples and warns of the importance of the proper implementation of methodology in everyday practice.


Questions and Answers about Tangible Communication Systems? --Anthony, Tanni. KEEPING IN TOUCH, Winter 2002, pp. 4-5. (2002) The information in this article was compiled from notes taken during a presentation called "Tangible Communication Systems for Learners with Significant Disabilities, Including Deafblindness," at the Colorado 2002 Summer Institute on Deafblindness. The presenter was Philip Schweigert. The following questions are asked and answered: What are the social foundations of communication? What are the elements of communication? How do I know when to introduce a symbolic communication system to a child? How can we work to establish intentional communication? How can I motivate a child to communicate? What is a tangible symbol system? How do I know if a child is ready for a tangible symbol system? When is it time to pursue tangible systems and how do I pick the items? How does a child indicate a response to the system? How can I best reinforce communication with any symbol system? How do I promote student progress with a symbol system?


Stroller and Wheelchair Mobility: Turning passive Transports Into “Teachable Moments” --Tellefson, Mary. TX SENSEABILITIES, vol. 5, #1, Winter 2011, pp. 19-23. (2011) The author describes a variety of ways to actively engage individuals who are not traveling independently. Ideas include introducing object symbols, choices of locations, activities, and companions, using a cane, and traveling for a functional purpose. Available on the web:


Tactile Learning Strategies: Interacting with Children Who Have Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities --Chen, Deborah; Downing, June. New York: AFB Press. Project SALUTE. (2006) Strategies and everyday activities for helping children who are visually impaired and have multiple disabilities to learn through touch are demonstrated using narration, interviews, and specific detailed examples of children and their families. Topics covered include: mutual tactile attention (following a child's lead without making any demands); tactile modeling (demonstrating an action); hand-under-hand guidance (showing a child by allowing him to feel another person's hand movements); hand-over-hand guidance (physical manipulation of a child's hands); touch cues (made by touching a child to let him know what is about to happen, provide info, and encourage interaction); object cues (objects or parts of objects that provide concrete cues to help a child anticipate and participate in a familiar activity); adapted sign (modifications of manual signs so they can be perceived tactilely), coactive sign (physical guidance of the child's hands to produce a sign); and tactile sign (produce signs under a child's hands). Video is produced by Project SALUTE. Available in video or DVD format (DB-LINK has one of each). English and Spanish versions are on the same videotape. In the DVD format, English and Spanish versions are on separate DVDs that come in the same case. Cost: $79.95 for the video; $99.95 for the DVD. Available from AFB Press. Phone: 800-232-3044. Publisher's web site:


Tactile Learning Strategies for Children who are Deaf-Blind: Concerns and Considerations from Project SALUTE --Chen, Deborah, Ph.D.; Downing, June, Ph.D.; Rodriguez-Gil, Gloria, M.Ed. Monmouth, OR: Teaching Research Division. DEAF-BLIND PERSPECTIVES, vol. 8, #2, Winter 2000/2001, pp. 1-6. (2000/2001) Identifying effective tactile strategies for deaf-blind children who also have cognitive or physical disabilities is particularly challenging. Project SALUTE (Successful Adaptations for Learning to Use Touch Effectively), a federally funded model demonstration project, is addressing the need for a more informed approach to the use of these methods. This article discusses key issues and concerns regarding the use of tactile strategies based on Project SALUTE's initial activities - a review of publications and input from focus groups. The article outlines the literature and focus group findings which serve as the basis for the work of the remaining three years of Project SALUTE. Available on the web:


Tangible Solutions for Individuals With Dual Sensory Impairments --Rowland, Charity; Schweigert, Philip. KEEPING IN TOUCH, Winter 2002, pp. 2-3. (2002) This short reader-friendly article describes the need for tangible symbols (either three-dimensional objects or two-dimensional pictures) for communication. It describes tangible symbols, addresses how to determine if a child is ready to use them, and lists available resources.


Tangible Symbol Systems: Making the Right to Communicate a Reality for Individuals with Severe Disabilities --Rowland, Charity, Ph.D.; Schweigert, Philip, M.Ed. Design to Learn Products. (2000) This book discusses the use of tangible symbols for communication throughout the day. It is designed to accompany a 75-minute videotape entitled Tangible Symbol Systems. The book summarizes the techniques illustrated in the videotape and provides additional background and technical information as well as data forms to assist in the implementation of these techniques. The background research supporting the use of tangible symbols is briefly described in the introduction. Includes information on tangible symbols, target population, how to gain attention and various levels of representation for two and three-dimensional symbols. Methods of testing comprehension and various ideas for materials and activities to use in learning the use of the symbols are presented as well. Available from Design to Learn, OHSU, Oregon Institute on Disability & Development, 3608 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97202. Phone: 800-410-7069 (Voice/TTY). E-mail: Publisher's web site:


Tangible Symbol Systems: Making the Right to Communicate a Reality for Individuals with Severe Disabilities --Rowland, Charity, Ph.D.; Schweigert, Philip, M.Ed. Design to Learn Products. (2005) This DVD is meant to accompany the book of the same name. It illustrates communication options for a broad range of individuals of all ages who are unable to communicate through speech or manual signs. The instructional process involved in implementation of a tangible symbol communication system is illustrated. Students with a wide range of severe disabilities (autism, severe cognitive limitations, deafblindness or multiple disabilities) can fiind expressive opportunities using a symbolic system that is meaningful to them. Available from Design to Learn, OHSU, Oregon Institute on Disability & Development, 3608 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97202. Phone: 800-410-7069 (Voice/TTY). E-mail: Publisher's web site:


 Tangible Symbols, Tangible Outcomes --Rowland, Charity; Schweigert, Philip. AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION, vol. 16, #2, June 2000, pp. 61-78. (2000) This 3-year study on the use of tangible symbols (objects and pictures) by 41 children with a variety severe and multiple disabilities was conducted to follow up on an earlier study by the authors that revealed the utility of tangible symbols for children who are deafblind. The children all had combinations of the following major disabilities: mental retardation (9), developmental delay (32), vision impairment (23), hearing impairment (8), autism (9), orthopedic impairment (23), seizure disorder (8), and medical fragility (6). Seven children had combined vision and hearing impairment plus additional disabilities. All were cognitively delayed. Of the 41 participants, only 6 failed to acquire tangible symbols, demonstrating their usefulness for children with a broad range of abilities. A number of the participants progressed beyond tangible symbols and learned to use abstract symbol systems, including speech. Data describing the progress of participants are presented. Participants are grouped according to outcomes, and the characteristics of each group are discussed in terms of the communication skills of participants as they began intervention. A correction to 2 figures published in a later AAC issue (vol. 16, #3, p. 205) is appended to this article.


 Teaching Communication Skills to Students with Severe Disabilities --Downing, June E., Ph.D. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. (2005) Helping students with severe disabilities communicate as effectively as possible with teachers and classmates in general education environments is the scope of this book. Much of the information may also apply to other settings such as home, community and workplace environments. The focus is on students with severe cognitive disabilities or developmental delay, autism, severe sensory impairments (including deaf-blindness), or severe physical disabilities. Specific topics include assessment of communication skills, teaching communication and conversation skills (e.g., gestures, body language, signing, objects, AAC devices) and specific augmentative and alternative communication techniques (e.g., symbol systems, electronic communication devices). Order from Paul H. Brookes Publishing, (800) 638-3775. Publisher's web site:


Using A Schedule with Your Child --Family Connect. American Foundation for the Blind. (2009) This paper is about how a child with visual impairment and multiple disabilities, using a calendar or schedule will likewise allows her to understand what she is going to do next, then after that, and then after that. This in turn will help her better understand the structure of the day overall and give her a sense of predictability in her life. Available on the web:


Using Objects to Promote Early Communication and Language for Deafblind Children --Gibbons, Patricia. BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS OF THE DEAF (BATOD) ON-LINE MAGAZINE, November 2003. (2003) For a deaf-blind child, finding references to things in the environment depends on tactual access to make up for a lack of visual information by placing an emphasis on touch, using real objects, and co-active strategies. This article briefly describes this process. Available on the web: Publisher's web site:


Using Tactile Strategies With Students Who Are Blind and Have Severe Disabilities --Downing, June E.; Chen, Deborah. TEACHING EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN, vol. 36, #2, Nov/Dec 2003, pp56-60. (2003) Students who are blind and have severe disabilities need instructional materials that provide relevant tactile information. This article describes specific tactile strategies to support the instruction of students who have severe and multiple disabilities and who do not learn visually. It addresses issues for teachers to consider to help them become aware of how they can best interact with students through touch and describes tactile modeling, tactile mutual attention, characteristics of tactile learning, how to use tactile information to represent specific concepts, the importance of considering a student's degree of sensitivity to touch, and the need for a team approach to teaching.  

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