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Guide to good symbol content
What are symbol summaries?
A symbol summary consists of up to four fully symbolised sentences that explain all or part of a document. A symbol summary is an ideal way of providing symbol support for a document which will need to be accessed by both symbol readers and non-symbol readers, allowing symbol readers to understand the content’s main messages without altering the body of the text.
Where would a symbol summary be used?
Due to symbol summaries taking up more space than key symbols and symbol highlights, they are particularly appropriate at providing symbol support to web content, where space is likely to be less limited than in printed documents.
Symbol summaries also work very well in education websites which are accessed by both pupils who are able readers and pupils who need an extra ‘helping hand’ in understanding written text. By adding a symbol summary to a page, students who would otherwise struggle to read the text on the page are able to understand the content’s main messages without having to rely upon help, giving a sense of independence.
Including a symbol summary is the ideal way to provide symbol support for existing text that cannot be simplified or altered due to the original text needing to remain in its entirety, such as a document that is intended to be an inclusive document for a wider audience, rather than exclusively for symbol readers or for non-symbol readers, or content that contains legal or other important information that cannot be reworded.
Summaries on a website
The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) have added symbol summaries to each page of their website, allowing symbol readers to see the main message of the content without altering the text.
Summaries in a document
Symbol summaries were used in a document produced by Power Employment explaining how the organisation would be using personal information in relation to the Data Protection Act.As this information needed to be accessible to everyone, symbol summaries were used to enable less confident readers to understand the main messages. The simply-written symbol summaries are separate from the unsymbolised text, meaning that this unsymbolised text did not need to be reworded.
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