Top tips for making photo visuals

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Choosing the right type of visual

Many children use visuals to assist their communication and understanding of events. The first step in making and providing visuals for your child is to determine the level of visual that your child can understand. The most common visual levels are:

Real Object – the actual object is used for communication. This is the simplest form of visual communication and is usually the first step for early level communicators.

Remnant – remaining parts of real objects, such as empty chip packets or a banana skin.

Photo – a clear photo of the actual object, person or place.

Line drawing or symbol – a generic, but clear and easily interpreted representation of the object, person or place.

Written word – using the written word in absence of a photo or symbol. This is the most difficult form of visual communication and requires reading competence.

Top tips for making photo visuals » visuals

It is also important to remember that children can use more than one type of visual, and can use different visuals for different communication purposes. For example, a child may use a remnant for food and photos for play activities.

Any of these symbol types can be taught through exposure (that is, repeated practice and use) and aided language stimulation (that is, using the visuals along with a verbal model).

4 tips for making photo visuals

  1. Consider the perspective of the child – adults and children will see the world from a different perspective, in particular due to a difference in height. When taking photos of places and objects in a room, consider taking the photos from the level of your child, and not from your height.
Top tips for making photo visuals » visuals
  1. Background – try to take photos in locations with a plain background, or with as few other objects as possible. This will ensure your child is focusing on the intended subject, and not be distracted by other items in the background. You should also try to centre the object in the middle of the photo to avoid excess background.
Top tips for making photo visuals » visuals
  1. Image Quality – where possible, use a high resolution camera to avoid ‘fuzzy’ or pixelated photos. Good quality, clear photos will allow your child to clearly see the intended object and increase accuracy in their choice making.
Top tips for making photo visuals » visuals
  1. Image size – ensure that you are making the intended item the focus of the picture by removing unnecessary background from the image (the crop feature is a very useful tool for this). Also consider the size of the images when you print and your child’s ability with small or large pictures, for example, do they have reduced fine motor skills or do they have a vision impairment. In our clinic we most often use visuals that are 6cm x 6cm.
Top tips for making photo visuals » visuals

Apps and Programs to make visuals at home

Top tips for making photo visuals » visuals

Boardmaker – Mayer-Johnson provide free 30 day trials of their Boardmaker software. This software allows access to the thousands of Boardmaker symbols, as well as the option to input your own photos. Click here for more information.

Customboards by Smarty Ears (available on iTunes) – Has over 10,000 symbols and allows customisation with photos and text. Also has the added options of creating games and therapy activities to print. Click here for more information.

LessonPix – $36US for a 12 month subscription allowing access to over 30,000 symbols. These symbols can be printed in a range of grid formats and can be added to game boards and therapy cards. Click here for more information.

Photo collage apps – Use these to insert your photos in to a grid and then print and laminate for photo visuals. Our favourites are PicsArt Photo Studio (available for download on apple or android devices) and Pic Collage (available for download on apple or android devices).

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