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OISE's Ontario Historical Education Collections (OHEC)

Blissymbolics Communication Institute - Canada collection (1952 - 2023)

In 2022, OISE Library received the Blissymbolics donation from Shirley McNaughton of Blissymbolics Communication International and Blissymbolics Communication Institute - Canada. Blissymbolics is an augmentative communication language derived from an international semantic language developed in the 1940s by Charles K. Bliss. The language uses pictographic and ideographic symbols to convey meaning, with symbols representing specific words or concepts. In 1971, Shirley McNaughton and a clinical team working with children with cerebral palsy introduced Blissymbols as a communication method for non-speaking students. The result was the Blissymbolics Communication Service (BCS) in 1975, which grew to gain international recognition as a breakthrough for persons who were non-speaking, and resulted in the establishment of the Blissymbolics Communication Foundation (BCF). The BCF grew and transformed over the following decades and has existed as Blissymbolics Communication Institute – Canada (BCIC) since 2009.A shelf with binders, books, and labelled file boxes

The Blissymbolics Communication Institute - Canada collection contains a wealth of resources that span the development, dissemination, use and study of Blissymbols by BCIC and by affiliate organizations, scholars, educators and users of augmentative communication around the world. Education thrives on innovation and adaptation, and the Blissymbolics collection provides a shining example of user-focused educational innovation that transformed lives globally.

Locating Items

Materials from the Blissymbolics Communication Institute - Canada collection may be viewed by appointment only and may not be borrowed. Please contact or call 416-978-1850 to book an appointment to visit the collection. If possible, please provide the unique identifiers for the materials you wish to see. These identifiers can be found within the collection's finding aid on Discover Archives.

Many of the materials in the collection have been digitized via the Internet Archive. Direct links to digital copies are available within the finding aid.

Collection Snapshot

Teaching ResourcesA close-up of flashcards

The Blissymbolics collection contains a wide variety of educational materials made and used by those teaching or learning Blissymbolics.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-1-2-13 ; 8-1-2-20 ; 8-1-2-23

Four books on a white surfaceInternational Learning

Blissymbolics is used by a global community and the collection contains educational materials in a multitude of languages.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-10-2-6 ; 8-10-2-11

Two closed books and two open books, with writing in Finnish, English, and BlissymbolicsBliss Storybooks

The collection includes storybooks that use Blissymbols, created by both educators and Bliss students, with translations in many languages.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-1-3-17 ; 8-1-3-39 ; 8-10-6-6

Four colourful boardsCommunication Displays

Bliss users may use boards, books, and other displays to communicate with Blissymbols. The collection contains a variety of teaching and personal communication displays for users of Blissymbolics.A close-up of several colourful papers

Pictured here: OTUED 8-10-4-7 ; 8-15-2-1 ; 8-15-2-2

Books & ResearchTwo books and a binder

Blissymbolics has been the topic of numerous research studies and publications, and the collection holds a variety of reports, articles, dissertations, presentations and books contributing to Blissymbolics scholarship.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-2-3-1 ; 8-2-3-4 ; 8-3-2-1

Technology User GuidesFour colourful books

A variety of programs and technologies have been developed for use by Blissymbol users. The collection contains manuals, user guides, and other documentation for Bliss-related technology and tools.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-9-7 ; 8-9-9

Audio-Visual MaterialsCDs in cases, floppy disks, and stacked videocassettes

BCIC's nearly 50-years of operation has created materials in a wide range of audio-visual formats. The collection contains items in photographic, magnetic storage, and digital storage mediums.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-13-3-5 ; 8-13-3-6 ; 8-13-3-8 ; 8-13-3-10 ; 8-13-3-16 ; 8-13-3-21 ; 8-13-3-30 ; 8-13-3-40 ; 8-13-3-41


A group of objects on a white backgroundMemorabilia

BCIC and its many international affiliates have a rich history and the collection contains various commemorative items for Blissymbolics and BCI.

Pictured here: OTUED 8-14-1-11 ; 8-14-2-1 ; 8-14-2-4 ; 8-14-2-5 ; 8-14-2-6 ; 8-14-2-15


Guide written by Nat Johnson-Tyghter, supported by research conducted by Emma Thomas.