Tangible Symbols: Symbolic Communication for Individuals with Multisensory Impairments

Charity Rowland, Philip Schweigert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Many individuals with multisensory impairments fail to bridge the gap between presymbolic communication and formal language systems such as speech or manual signs. This paper discusses the use of tangible symbolsmanipulable symbols (objects or pictures) that bear a clear perceptual relationship to a referent by individuals who are not able to acquire abstract symbol systems. A sequence of communication development that accommodates the use of tangible symbols is presented, as well as two brief case histories illustrating the acquisition of tangible symbol systems by individuals with multisensory impairments. Finally, data on the progress of nine individuals who were taught to use tangible symbols is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalAugmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Aided Communication
  • Concreteness
  • Dual Sensory Impairments
  • Graphic Symbols
  • Iconicity
  • Intervention
  • Symbol Systems
  • Tangible Symbols
  • Visual Impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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