Original Research

The iconicity and ease of learning of picture communication symbols: A study with Afrikaans-speaking children

Magdel Basson, Erna Alant
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 52, No 1 | a201 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v52i1.201 | © 2019 Magdel Basson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 October 2016 | Published: 31 December 2005

About the author(s)

Magdel Basson, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Erna Alant, Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Graphic symbols form an important part of most augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users' communication systems. Studies focusing on the way different graphic symbols are learned and retained are pivotal for a better understanding of the processes involved.  The current study set out to determine how accurately typically developing urban, 6-year-old Afrikaans-speaking children could identify 16 Picture Communication Symbols™ (PCS) presented thematically on a communication overlay, and also how accurately they could recognize these symbols following exposure to a learning experience. Participants, divided into two cohorts, were presented with a 16-matrix overlay and required to match symbols with spoken Afrikaans labels.  They were then divided into two groups, one group receiving training in the meaning of the symbols and the other group receiving no training.  Finally the test-procedure was repeated.  Results indicated that the 16 PCS™  symbols had an iconicity of  12.5 % (accuracy score > 50 %), and that there was a significant improvement in both the experimental and the control groups' post-test results.


augmentative and alternative communication; communication overlay; iconicity; learnability; Picture Communication Symbols (PCS); recognition


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