If you know me very well, you know that I am passionate about using pictures and other visual supports to enhance communication, especially for our students with special learning needs like autism. There are a million reasons why. But all pictures are not the same
Here’s my story
I purchased a new vacuum last night. The very short version of a very long story. . .3 broken vacuums. Multiple trips to the store. And after a visit from 5 grandkids and their dog on the way home from the horse farm . . . well I think you understand the need.
Anyway. . .
I’m one of those people who looks at the instruction manual. Here’s what I found. The good news is that in our multi-lingual international world people are figuring out that pictures are “bi-lingual.” They communicate across languages and cultures. The part that they haven’t mastered is that the pictures need to clearly communicate the information. The important word here is “clearly.”
I’m sure some talented artist was very proud of his/her art in this sample. Lovely pictures. I just haven’t the slightest idea what they are trying to communicate. The eyeballs really have me confused.
Here’s the bottom line lesson
The person creating a picture or a visual tool is very “close” to the project so of course the tool makes sense to that person. It came from their brain. But the real test is to find out if someone else will understand what it means. In this situation, that someone else cannot be another vacuum person. It needs to be someone more than an arm’s length from the project.
This happens all the time
The computer geek writes the computer instructions. The cook writes the cookbook. The teacher creates the visual tools for the classroom. But the ultimate test is whether Grandma or the bus driver or the baby sitter or the next door neighbor or the student in another classroom can understand. And of course the most important test is to check to make sure your targeted student who the tool is for understands it. Then you’ll know if you have achieved your goal.
Just some food for thought. . . .
Have you had an experience like this??? Please comment.
Here’s a larger version.