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RE: Sources and conferences related to cognitive and learning dis abilities

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bruce.Bailey@ed.gov>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 13:57:13 -0400
Message-ID: <5DCA49BDD2B0D41186CE00508B6BEBD0022DAEE6@wdcrobexc01.ed.gov>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Cc: "'love26@gorge.net'" <love26@gorge.net>
Yes, I saw this link.  I haven't tried the software.  Bliss intrigues me,
but I am rather skeptical of the whole premise.  I would love to see some
research, but it seems to me if someone can communicate with Blissymbolics,
at say a fourth grade reading/writing level, would they not probably be able
to communicate in the written version of their native language at about the
same grade level?

Bliss was meant to be a universal written language.  It didn't work out.
Nowadays its mostly used as a picture communication system for some people
who cannot speak, but it's not as popular as PCS or MinSpeak.  I've brought
these comparisons up before...
Hmm.  We haven't made to much progress on this debate in the last three

Picture-based communication systems require the active participation of the
"speaker" and the communication partner.  The idea of a picture oriented web
stands this idea on its head and makes the internet content the "speaker"
and the CD/LD person the communication partner.  The equation still requires
extensive customization and specialized learning on both parties.

As I understand the problem, certain people on this list are looking for
ways to represent or reformat general content so that it can be conveyed in
a picture-oriented format.  Yet the audience we are primarily interested in
providing this service to do NOT themselves communicate with a picture based

Bliss has been around since World War I.
People have been using pictures to communicate since before there were cave
drawings, but the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (where
people first tried to formally substitute pictures for voice) is maybe 30
years old.  Gregg could probably tell us when the term was first used.  The
point is that some very learned people have been trying to systematically
replace words with pictures for a few decades now and the best they have
come up with is PCS or MinSpeak, both of which end up being highly
customized to the individual involved!  I will also go so far as to mention
hieroglyphics.  How transparent do you find that picture-based communication

I submit that these examples go pretty far towards demonstrating that the
nominal objective of replacing general text with graphics is beyond  our
reach.  (I suspect there is a mathematical proof for this "theorem", but its
construction is beyond me.  I doubt that formal evidence would go very far
in dissuading the proponents here.)  I submit that the best we could hope to
do is come up with guidance for constructing images that supplement
understanding.  This latter goal is FAR more usability oriented than being
true accessibility.  I respectfully suggest we suspend conversation on this
topic and conserve our collective energies for topics that offer a hope of
reaching some conclusion.

Most of the references from the post I cited above have suffered the nearly
inevitable link rot.  I offer these instead:
PCS:  <http://don.iserver.net/catalog/piccomd.htm>
MinSpeak:  <http://www.prentrom.com/speech/aqlsiconic.html> (mostly just a
photo of an icon-oriented communication overlay)

Bruce Bailey

> ----------
> From: 	love26@gorge.net
> Sent: 	Thursday, April 26, 2001 10:15 AM
> To: 	w3c-wai-gl@w3.org; ward@talkingsigns.com
> Subject: 	RE: Sources and conferences related to cognitive and
> learning     d 	isabilities
> At 01:53 PM 4/25/01 -0400, Bailey, Bruce wrote:
> >maturity of Bliss
> http://www.handicom.nl/english/SymfW/index.asp
> describes "Symbol for Windows" a program for manipulating Bliss symbols,
> etc.
> We may be able to "write what we mean" sooner than later?
> --
> Love.
Received on Thursday, 26 April 2001 13:57:46 UTC

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