Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mayer-Johnson symbols

We read an article in Disability and School and, I quote: "Children who cannot hear learn sign language, children who cannot see learn braille. Children who can hear but not speak, like Thomas, learn their own language too. The symbols used in Classroom 506 are known as Mayer-Johnson symbols - thousands of little pictures that represent words and actions and thoughts." In Thomas' classroom these pictures are Velcro-ed to the story books that are to be read in class so that students, like Thomas, can "read" along with the class. Now, I say that, for Thomas (who has cerebral palsy) these collection of pictures are a form of literacy. He is able to read along with the class by seeing these pictures. But in Larson/Marsh we read, ""Kress (2003: 23-4) suggests that the term 'literacy' should relate to lettered representation..." (pg. 69). What do you think?


Genna said...

I remember reading that article! I think that what thomas was doing was definitely a form of literacy. The story boards were his communication tool. I worked in an inclusive preschool where we used story boards and picture cards. The students learned how to use these forms of communication and the teachers had to as well.

Hali Resney said...

Interesting point. When I was just reading the article for class too, I didn't even think about the forms of literacy in his classroom. I think his story boards are definitely a literacy form too. Any person with a disability that might communicate differently if they can't speak, is creating their own form of literacy. They create their own language in order to express their feelings and needs with others.

Brittany Soper said...

I agree. I am in Disability and Early Childhood right now, and we have been talking a lot about alternative communication methods. I think it definitely requires you to rethink what literacy may be when you are teaching children with disabilities. Pictures become a huge part of communication, especially when they are younger. Some children may never develop traditional literacy, but they have their own voice and ability to communicate that works best for them.