Overview: Symbol browsers

Symbol browsers are a special type of web browser that can help people with learning or language difficulties by simplifying the content of a webpage. They make the content of the page easier to understand by converting text to easily recognised symbols.

Overview of symbol browsers

Many people with learning difficulties find some websites too complex, which makes the webpages hard to understand and makes it difficult for the user to find what they want on the page.

Ideally, the people who create websites should keep the language and navigation as simple as possible, and use easy to recognise icons, to help people with learning difficulties. However, this might not always be enough to make the page understandable for some people.

A symbol browser can help people with learning difficulties in two ways. Non-readers can access information using only symbols, while for users with some text knowledge, the symbols act as a reminder for the words they don't immediately recognise.

One example of a symbol browser is Communicate: Webwide (shown in Fig 1), which is available by subscription from the software's producer, Widgit. (For more information about the browser and the use of symbols in general, see the Widgit website.)

Fig 1Part of a sample web page as viewed using Communicate: Webwide

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Back to How to guides - I find words difficult

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.