The Maker Movement in education is amazing. It’s inspiring a whole new generation of students and teachers to be creative, inquisitive, learn how things work, and discover the joy and pride of solving problems or filling a need with your own two hands. But those of you who are special educators, AT specialists, speech therapists, OTs, parents and others who support students with special needs have been “making” probably as long as you can remember. Making is engrained in the world of special education. The goals for the student are differentiated instruction and accommodations of all sorts, but often there isn’t a solution available to meet those needs. That’s when we become makers.
Nearly 40 years ago, in 1980, Roxie Johnson was working as a speech therapist with special needs children in the San Diego public school system and also with adults in a local hospital. She saw the need for a set of picture symbols for communication. So she started making!
The first book of her hand-drawn symbols entitled The Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) included 700 picture symbols that were meant to be photocopied, cut out, and laminated. With the help of her husband Terry, they formed a company so they could do more.
Now that they had created an entire library of picture symbols, the Johnsons saw the need for an easier way for people to make all these wonderful supports. With the help of the staff at the Erinoak Hospital in Canada, they created a software program that could be used to make any printed activity or communication board their customers could conceive of. The resulting Boardmaker Software was launched 30 years ago this year.
It’s estimated that Boardmaker has been used by more than 2.5 million people to support more than 20 million students with special needs. With 30 years of making the world a more accessible and understandable place, Boardmaker defines what making is all about. Come join the Maker Movement!