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Pictures/Picture Symbols Added to Text

Symbol Cognition Continuum 

from actual items to abstract symbols and text

Text (if not distracting) should be paired with objects or pictures along the continuum.  The text not only provides an academic opportunity to learn, but it also ensures continuity of vocabulary among all staff.

Real Items

Student is able to identify and use real items appropriately.  May not  fully recognize photograph representations.

Portions of Items

Student does not require the total item to identify the referent.  Given a portion of seat belt, the student may associate "car" or "ride".


Student can identify a referent based on a photograph. A student may not be able to recognize artist renderings of the same item.

Color Drawings

Student is able to identify line drawings with color and possibly shading.  Student has difficulty with more abstract line drawings

Line Drawings

Student is able to make the connect between a real item referent and a line drawing symbol.  The student may have emerging reading skills.



is able to recognize familiar words in context without a picture cue.

Cup Real.png
Cup Photo.jfif
Cup Reverse.jpg







Determine where your student is learning on the symbol cognitive continuum above.  Once you have determined where your student fits, then you can use software to begin creating academic material appropriate for their learning needs.


Software for Adding Symbols to Text

Open Symbols.PNG


OpenSymbols is a collection of open-licensed picture symbols that can be used for augmentative communication. The collection pulls from multiple sources and currently includes access to more than 50,000 symbols and icons!

OpenSymbols exists as part of the OpenAAC Initiative to lower the barriers for AAC adoption and to make it easier for teams to create AAC resources and activities without needing to pay for proprietary symbol libraries

Picto Selector.PNG

Picto-Selector is a free tool for creating visual schedules. It is used by many teachers and parents. But there are also reports of people using it in daycare for elderly people.

The download contains over 28000 pictos (images) translated to English, Dutch, German, French, Danish and Spanish. (Some pictos are also translated to Arabic, Swedish, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian and Indonesian)

Picto Demo.PNG

Modest Cost

Lesson Pix.PNG

$36.00 Per Year allows you to create in 3 steps

  1. Find Your Content: use clip art or upload photos

  2. Choose the template with the Materials Wizard

  3. Generate a PDF file to print and use

Lesson Pix Video.PNG

Deluxe Tools

Symbol Stix.PNG

$129.00 per year allows teachers access to an online program for creating communication boards and social stories.  Premade activities are included.

News 2 u.PNG

$199.68 per year gives the teacher daily news presented with symbols to engage and increase understanding.

Boardmaker 7.PNG

The world’s leading symbol-based special education solution. Tap into a trove of ready-made communication materials or create your own from scratch, with access to over 45,000 Picture Communication Symbols.

             Personal Account $99.00             Professional Account $199.00  

Using Pictures to Define and Clarify Text

texthelp picture dictionary.png

The picture dictionary in the TextHelp Google Extension displays images from Widget Symbols to help support fluency and comprehension.

TextHelp Video.PNG
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