Inclusive education is not just about providing physical accessibility; it also entails ensuring that students with communication needs have equal opportunities to express themselves and engage in social interactions. To address this crucial aspect, schools are implementing the School Wide Communication Access Plan, a comprehensive initiative designed to enhance communication support throughout the school building. We will explore the key elements of the plan and the benefits it brings to students.
In recent years, playground communication boards have gained significant popularity in elementary schools across the country. Communication Boards have become an essential component of inclusive education, facilitating communication and fostering social interactions among students during recess. The increasing recognition of the importance of communication access for all students has led to the widespread adoption of playground communication boards, enhancing the way children with communication difficulties engage with their peers and educators on the playground. As a result, these boards have become a symbol of inclusion and equity in educational settings.
While the implementation of playground communication boards has undoubtedly made a positive impact, schools are now recognizing the need to go beyond individualized solutions and adopt a more comprehensive approach.
Creating Communication-Rich Environments:
The School Wide Communication Access Plan aims to create communication-rich environments by introducing specialized communication boards in various areas of the school. These visual tools promote language learning, social interaction, and self-expression for all students. With boards strategically placed in classrooms, speech therapy rooms, the playground, the library, and the nurse’s office, students can effectively communicate their needs and engage in meaningful interactions across different contexts.
- Playgrounds: Playgrounds are crucial spaces for social interactions and physical activities. By placing communication boards in playground areas, students can continue to communicate effectively and engage with their peers during playtime. The boards provide a visual means of communication that supports inclusive play, fostering social connections and friendships among students of different abilities.
- Classrooms: Classrooms serve as the primary learning environments for students. By having communication boards in each classroom, students can easily access visual symbols and vocabulary to express their thoughts, needs, and ideas during academic activities and interactions with teachers and peers. Communication boards in classrooms foster inclusive communication practices, ensuring that all students have equal opportunities to participate and engage in the learning process.
- Library: Libraries are valuable spaces for literacy development and independent learning. By including communication boards in the library, students can access visual supports to aid in their communication during reading, research, and library activities. The boards provide additional language support, helping students navigate through books, ask questions, and express their understanding or interests effectively. Communication boards in libraries foster an inclusive environment that supports students’ literacy skills and encourages their love for reading and learning.
- Nurse’s Office: The nurse’s office is an essential area where students receive medical care and support. Placing communication boards in this space ensures that students can effectively communicate their health needs, symptoms, or any discomfort they may experience.
While these are just some of the recommended by Smarty Symbols; some schools have unique spaces such as a motor room that could also benefit from a communication board.
How the process works:
Smarty Symbols understands the immense effort required to create a comprehensive communication access plan for schools. That’s why we aim to simplify the process by offering a turnkey and customizable plan to meet the unique needs of each school.
With our expertise and resources, we make it easier for schools to implement a School Wide Communication Access Plan. Here’s how Smarty Symbols facilitates the implementation process:
1️⃣ Information Requests: Schools can submit any information requests based on their specific requirements. We understand that each school is unique, and we are committed to customizing the plan to align with the school’s preferences and goals. Whether it’s adapting the boards to match school branding, incorporating specific vocabulary, or tailoring the design to suit individual needs, we are here to accommodate those requests.
2️⃣ Proposal Submission: Once we receive the modification requests, we will prepare a proposal for the school based on the specific building requirements. This includes customizing the boards with the school’s name, logo, and colors to create a cohesive and branded communication system. We also offer the flexibility to make vocabulary changes that align with the school’ space and student population.
3️⃣ Purchase Order Submission: After reviewing the proposal we submit, the school can submit a purchase order to Smarty Symbols to initiate the production process. Our team will guide the school through the necessary steps to ensure a seamless ordering process.
4️⃣ Board Design and Approval: Once the purchase order is received, our experienced team will design the communication boards according to the school’s specifications. We will then provide a digital proof for the school’s review and approval. This step allows the school to provide feedback or request modifications to ensure the boards meet their expectations.
5️⃣ Installation Support: We understand that proper installation is crucial for the effective use of communication boards. Therefore, our team is available to provide assistance and guidance on installation specifications. We want to ensure that the installation process is as smooth and efficient as possible for school administrators, guaranteeing that the boards are installed correctly and ready for use.
The School Wide Communication Access Plan promotes collaboration among educators, speech therapists, and other professionals involved in supporting students’ communication development. It establishes clear guidelines and protocols for communication support, fostering a cohesive and inclusive approach across the school community. This collaborative effort ensures that every student receives the necessary support to communicate effectively and participate fully in their educational experience. You can download the Smarty Symbols guide here:
The integration of playground communication boards into elementary schools has been a significant step toward creating inclusive learning environments. However, the emergence of School Wide Communication Access Plans demonstrates a growing recognition of the need for a comprehensive approach to communication support. By implementing these plans, schools ensure that communication access is not limited to specific areas but extends to all aspects of a student’s school experience. As a result, every student, regardless of their communication abilities, can fully engage, express themselves, and develop meaningful connections with their peers and educators.