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catherine jell

What is SymbolStix?

8th October 2018

Originally designed and developed by News-2-You, Inc for use in its internet newspaper and online curriculum, SymbolStix is a really engaging library of symbols. These symbols depict activities and people as lively, vibrant stick figures, drawn with a distinctive flair to create “stick figures with an attitude”. The set consists of approximately 23,000 symbols!

SymbolStix symbols are stick people with no gender, age or culturally specific attributes to ensure that learners focus on the concepts portrayed rather than being distracted or confused by detail.

This vast set also includes a range of culturally-significant images such as politicians, athletes, actors, historical figures and popular fictional characters.

Examples of SymbolStix symbols for Biggest, Choose, and Roger Federer

Why use symbols?

Symbols provide reading and writing support for people with a variety of learning needs. Many different people benefit from working with symbols, including those with special needs, early learners and those who do not have English as a first language. Each symbol focuses on a single concept and there are symbols for practically all commonly used words.

Symbols provide vital support to those that require it, enabling learners to:

  • Communicate more easily and effectively
  • Build their confidence
  • Develop greater academic independence
  • Better understand and use given information

By adding symbols to activities, you can offer a ‘helping hand’ to pupils who may struggle with text, by providing a visual representation of all the concepts illustrated by the words within text in the form of a ‘symbol language’. This visual aid provides valuable reassurance to pupils for any words they are unsure of.

Using SymbolStix within Clicker 7

We’re really passionate about providing software that enables pupils of all abilities to achieve success. So, we have partnered up with News-2-You to offer a large SymbolStix library specially formatted to work seamlessly with Clicker 7.

When paired with the power of Clicker, symbols can break down barriers for pupils with special literacy or communication needs;

  • Writing support - Clicker displays both the symbol and the text, which encourages learners to make the connection between the words and the images. By listening to the recorded speech as it reads their work back to them, learners develop their understanding of the link between the symbols they see and the words they hear.

SymbolStix used within Clicker 7 providing writing support

  • Communication grids - Creating your own communication aid is easy with Clicker grids. Because you are able to link together as many grids as you like, there is no limit to the number of symbols you can access.

SymbolStix images used within Clicker 7 in a communication grid

  • Word prediction - Clicker’s integrated word predictor offers a list of possible words based on the letters you type. To aid pupils in choosing the word they want to write you can show symbols next to the predicted words.

SymbolStix images appearing beside word predictions in Clicker 7

Using SymbolStix within Clicker Communicator

Clicker Communicator is our iPad communication aid for learners with speech difficulties. Teachers can set up a Vocabulary Set in minutes and personalise the app to the specific needs and interests of their pupils. The SymbolStix symbols library (localised for the UK) is included as standard, along with three ready-made core words sets.

SymbolStix images used in a communication grid within the Clicker Communicator AAC app

We also offer alternative symbol libraries for use in Clicker 7 and Clicker Communicator:

  • Mayer-Johnson PCS – over 7000 colour symbols that are clear and aesthetically pleasing. In many cases, there are alternative symbols available for certain words or phrases, allowing teachers to tailor the set to a particular pupil, e.g. these options for the phrase my turn:

Examples of the 3 alternative images for 'my turn' in Mayer Johnson PCS

  • Widgit Symbols – over 10,000 colourful, simply-drawn symbols, which each illustrate a single concept. An extensive range of topics are covered, including a wide range of curriculum areas such as Science and Maths.

Examples image from Widgit symbols library

If you’d like to learn more about symbol libraries or any of our products, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01604 671691, or email us at

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