Using Iconicity to Evaluate Symbol Use

  • David Gareth Evans
  • Lisa Bowick
  • Marianne Johnson
  • Paul Blenkhorn
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4061)


This paper investigates the use of iconicity testing to evaluate symbol ‘quality’ and to examine differences in symbol perception in different ethnic groups. The paper largely replicates an earlier study by Haupt and Alant in which a communication grid of PCS symbols was evaluated with Zulu children. In our study 10 university-educated people with long experience of Western European culture are used to test the symbols. They achieve an overall symbol correctness of 50.3% (compared with Haupt and Alant’s 18.9%) and 27.8% symbols are strictly iconic (2.8% for Haupt and Alant) and 55.6 are iconic according to a lenient criterion (11.1% for Haupt and Alant). The concept of distinctiveness as defined by Haupt and Alant is also investigated, as is a method of analyzing symbols based on frequency of selection and correctness when selected. The overall conclusion is that iconicity tests can be usefully employed for assessing symbol quality and determining the difference between ethnic groups.


Alternative Communication Test Grid Communication Disorder Primary Care Nursing Communication Grid 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Gareth Evans
    • 1
  • Lisa Bowick
    • 3
  • Marianne Johnson
    • 2
  • Paul Blenkhorn
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Informatics 
  2. 2.School of NursingMidwifery and Social Work University of ManchesterUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.ENSAD – CNERTADijonFrance

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