No matter what method of symbolising you are using, it’s important to ensure that the symbols you choose accurately represent what it is that you want to say.
When creating symbol-supported content, remember that a word can have more than one meaning, and that there are different symbols to represent each of those meanings.
If you are using Widgit software to symbolise content, you will be offered alternative symbols for terms with more than one meaning, giving you the opportunity to select the most appropriate symbol to accurately represent the concept.
Changing the symbol for a particular word can alter, and often completely change, the meaning of the entire sentence for a symbol reader. It is important to think about the concept a word represents in a sentence rather than the word itself. Sometimes using a symbol that illustrates another word, and then retyping the text beneath the symbol, can provide a more appropriate illustration of a concept, as you can see in the following example:
In the sentence ‘John’s last birthday’, the birthday being referred to is John’s most recent birthday, not his final birthday – i.e. the last birthday he ever had. However, the symbol chosen to illustrate ‘last’ in this example gives the impression that it was John’s final, rather than his previous birthday.
Here, the symbol for ‘last’ has been replaced with the symbol for ‘previous’, showing the correct meaning of the word.
Sometimes the differences in meaning that a word can have are very subtle, but choosing an inappropriate symbol can make them very obvious.
If you wanted to say, ‘I work in the garden’, you could use the ‘manual work’ work symbol to symbolise ‘I work’, as working in the garden is primarily a physical activity.
However, if you were talking about taking some paperwork outside to complete whilst you sat in the garden, the ‘man at a desk’ symbol would be more appropriate as it would best represent the type of work that you would be doing.
It is important to remember that some words may not have all the appropriate symbols matched to them within the Widgit Symbol Database.
Therefore, if you can't find a symbol in the list of alternatives that accurately represents the word you want to symbolise, you may wish to brainstorm related concepts and then retext this word to the word you want to symbolise.