Visual Support Project: Structured implementation of visual symbol supports within mainstream schools




    • Julie Baxter (Edinburgh Visiting Teaching & Support Service)


The use of visual symbol supports in education settings aims to “prevent, remove or alleviate the effects of barriers within the learning environment”. Local evaluation identified variations in the provision of this low-tech AAC. The Visual Support Project three-tiered model delivers a coordinated implementation programme to raise the awareness, practice and access to visual symbol supports.


Tier 1 of this collaborative model is currently being trialled in five schools. Each school receives: whole school training session; clear roles and implementation criteria; resource pack; ongoing support and guidance with the implementation of Tier 1 resources; scheduled support meetings.


To date, the model has been well received. The following data collection is being carried out:

• Baseline questionnaires to provide a report on the current knowledge, attitude and practice in the use of symbol visual supports

• Follow up questionnaires for baseline comparison

• Criteria checklists to evidence changes in practice

• Case studies and focus groups to gather qualitative evidence (beginning June 2014).


Establishing a successful, sustainable multi-agency universal model of visual symbol supports means equal access to visual supports for every child at every time. This allows children with additional support needs to participate in all activities in their environment.

Level of Session


Age Group



Primary school