Using Visual Schedules

Using Visual Schedules

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Resource by Taylor Harrington & Clara King

Adapted with permission from authors. Cover image by Eileen Lamb via Copyright.

A visual schedule is a pictorial timetable/flowchart depicting the events happening at Jesus Club or a disability ministry in chronological order.

They help provide structure and routine in an environment that may be overwhelming and unfamiliar. By knowing what activities are coming up next, an individual can better prepare themselves for what to expect and transition more easily between activities. Visual schedules can also help those who require support with verbal or written information and memory.

There are a number of ways in which a visual schedule could be implemented, depending on how many wish to use it, and the support needs of the individual. For example, images or photographs of upcoming activities could be stuck on a physical chart with Velcro, a poster or on a PowerPoint slide, or a timetable saved on an individual's phone.

Tips for implementing a visual schedule

Update, update.

If there is a change in routine, make sure this is updated on the schedule! (i.e. guest speaker, change in the order of activities, special event night, outings etc.)

Get Visual

Take photographs of the games normally played in meetings to include on the visual schedule.

Consider literacy level

If an individual has no difficulties with understanding written information, a simple timetable without pictures, maybe appropriate.

Use Key Words

Consider the individual's reading level, when deciding how much text to include on the schedule, and perhaps only include a few key words.

Be Age Appropriate

Be mindful to be age appropriate! For example, photographs and simple text may be more appropriate for adults than cartoons on coloured paper.

Be wary of abstraction

Be wary of using cartoons and abstract symbols on the schedule, as it requires the person using the schedule to be able to make the link between a symbol and the real-life object or idea. If this is something the person has difficulty with, using real-life-photographs of a person completing the activity, or photos of the actual object or place the schedule is referring to, can help them to contextualise the information and apply it to themselves.

Taylor Harrington and Clara Kang created this resource as part of a community project facilitated by 4th year Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) students at the University of Sydney.