Why Signalong?

The points of similarity between Signalong and other sign-supported communication systems are that they are key-word systems which use mainly BSL signs, and are intended for use with people who have language and communication difficulties mainly arising from learning disabilities. Because of the BSL root, signs for words which occur in both lexicons are usually the same, but there are some differences.

In other systems Core Vocabulary they use the same (or virtually the same) signs for concepts such as doll/baby, cup/drink, bed/sleep and look/see. It is possible that this arose because in the beginning they were advised by members of the Royal Association for the Deaf, and BSL users frequently use the same signs for these concepts, relying on context to aid understanding. Because Signalong was originally introduced to assist with language development programmes we use one sign per concept, one concept per sign.

There are some significant differences in presentation and accessibility. Signalong analyses signs for their handshape, orientation, placement and movement, supported by clear line drawings. This means that when they understand the methodology, practitioners can accurately reproduce signs from the manuals without having to attend additional classes or reference to a trainer. Others do not have this methodology, sometimes using stick figure illustrations with occasional text explanations which lack the precision of Signalong.

Signalong has published over 8,000 signs since 1992 and offers a much wider vocabulary, enabling a wider range of opportunities for users.

With the exception of symbols for sexual awareness, Signalong has not published its own symbols, preferring to work with Widgit Software on the development of their Rebus symbol system (now Symbols for Literacy). As early as 1995 our organisations collaborated to ensure that there was a Rebus symbol match for the Signalong Basic Vocabulary, and in March 2008 Signalong and Widgit signed an agreement on mutual co-operation in resource development, with the aim that there should be sign and symbol matches for all resources published by the 2 organisations. An additional advantage of working with Widgit is that they are UK agents for the PCS symbols system, which is less abstract than others.

Our training programmes also have significant differences. We do not provide training in symbol use, as this is available from Widgit. In addition to our ordinary Introduction and Foundation courses we have a range of courses which are accredited by Laser Learning Awards, formerly the Open College Network, ranging from Entry level (for service users) to level 1 and level 2 for practitioners. Courses for practitioners focus on the development of skills, since this gives the practitioner flexibility in the selection of signs.

In the case of students with ASD, practitioners need to have a great deal of adaptability and access to a wide range of communication methods and vocabulary. This is more readily available from Signalong. The Signalong methodology enable practitioners and parents to use the Signalong Text-a-Sign Service whereby signs can be accurately acquired in writing.