Over the last few posts, I’ve talked about why I think visuals rock, and how, despite a number of perceived barriers to implementing them, they can do amazing things (they really can!). Two other barriers that I haven’t talked about, but come up frequently when discussing the use of visual supports are, cost and time. Fear not! Even if you’re not fortunate enough to have an incredible Resource Centre like the The Ability Hub in Calgary, where you can make Boardmaker visuals gratis, there are a number of free, ready-made resources available on the web. Here are my favourites (in no particular order):
1) Boardmaker Share: Yes, you must have/buy Boardmaker in order to actually use the materials you download from this website. And yes, that costs money. But, once you do, you can sign up and access literally thousands of free, ready-made and totally customizable visuals. Amazing! When I first stumbled across this website, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why didn’t I discover this sooner?” What a time saver!
2) Geneva Centre for Autism: Want to start using visuals, but don’t know where to start? This site has all of the basics covered, including: first/then boards, choice board templates, simple visual schedules, wait cards, relaxation visuals and volume meters. And all the visuals are real, live, Boardmaker pictures! Cool right?
3) Do2Learn: This site is a good option if you aren’t too worried about having colour pictures (all of the cartoons are in black and white, and I guess that you could colour them yourself, but it’s probably not the highest priority on my list of things I want to spend my time doing). That said, it’s free, and the visuals are organized by category, including: self-help, social, safety, activities, home and school, and calendar. They also give you the option of large, 2 inch, or 1 inch pictures, with or without text.
4) Visual Aids for Learning: This is another site that has a number of ready-made, cartoon-like visuals organized into popular sections, including: school, early childhood, home, and toilet training. It also has an adolescent-specific section that includes visuals related to puberty.
5) Picto Selector: Similar to Do2Learn (and for the most part, any site that offers free visuals), this site has only black and white pictures to choose from. But, unlike Do2Learn, where you download or print off ready-made visuals, Picto is very similar to Boardmaker in that it also offers a platform for customizing your visuals, including searching for specific pictures, adding text, and formatting the layout. Not bad.
6) ConnectABILITY: Back in the day, when I first started out working with kids with autism at Community Living Toronto, we were just developing the ConnectABILITY website. It’s come a long way since then, but they’ve kept the classic “Visuals Engine”, where you can select a template, choose a picture, add text, and print or save your visuals as a PDF. And as an added bonus, the site uses real photos and they’re all in colour (Wahoo!).
7) PictureSET: Here’s a little gem from SETBC. It’s a database of visual supports created by professionals working with students in British Columbia. All of the visuals can be downloaded as a PDF or Boardmaker file, and it’s absolutely free!
Know an amazing site that offers free visuals that I’ve missed?! Share it!