Reflections · Stories

Visual Language

Road signs, Emojis, logos… visual communication is everywhere, and it is SO important. Although most of my students are able to further explain their thoughts/ideas, some students have difficulties communicating verbally (due to speech delays, language differences, etc.)

Last week, I had a new student in one of my classes. I was informed that he spoke/understood English to some extent, but it was difficult to determine what he did and did not understand when I explained the project we were working on. I later learned that the student was from Nairobi, Kenya. Although he may not have understood what I said, I showed him my art example, and I proceeded to point out other students’ work. The project concept was narrative images: telling a story without using words. The artworks had the main parts of a story, including characters, setting, and action.

The new student began drawing, and from what I could tell, he grasped the main idea behind the artwork. He was also able to point to his picture and say: father, mother, brother, and me.

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The rest of the picture is fascinating in the way it is laid out. There doesn’t seem to be a foreground, middle ground, or background (another visual concept that I explained and demonstrated for the students prior to his arrival), but it is telling a story nonetheless.

At first glance, the image below just appears to be a collage of black shapes. Look at the artwork first, then read the caption to learn more. The assignment was to change a piece of rectangular black paper into something else by cutting, arranging, and gluing pieces to a larger paper. The challenge was to use the whole piece of black paper, without having any leftovers. The students interpreted the task in so many different ways.

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Models on a runway
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Car and road sign
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Cat and a tree

 

Today I attended a training (part of a professional learning series) with a focus on adaptive communication and developing communicative competence in students with Austism and other speech delays. A variety of programs and software have been developed over the years to include visual symbols and combinations of ‘core language’ words. The words and symbols are organized on a board, and then modeled to reinforce communication strategies.

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At the end of the workshop, we created our own visual communication board to use with our students.

How do you use visual language to communicate? 

 

 

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