Who introduced the symbol system for elements?

The BLISS symbol system

Table of Contents

1. BLISS- what is it?
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Basic forms

2. Types of symbols
2.1 Pictograms in the BLISS system
2.2 ideograms
2.3 Other symbols

3. Composition of BLISS symbols
3.1 Simple BLISS symbols
3.2 Compound BLISS symbols
3.2.1 Superimposed symbols
3.2.2 Lined up symbols
3.2.3 Combined symbols

4. Indicators
4.1 Indicator for verbs
4.2 Indicators for adjectives
4.3 thing indicator
4.4 Plural indicator

5. Possible uses of BLISS

6. Limits and critical examination of BLISS
6.1 Requirements for BLISS
6.2 Advantages of the BLISS system
6.3 Disadvantages of the BLISS system
6.4 Objectives of the supported communication with BLISS

7. Is BLISS useful for people with mental disabilities?

8. Literature

1. BLISS- what is it?

1.1 Introduction

BLISS is a pictographic and ideographic symbol system, consisting of around 3000 standardized symbols, which are composed of a small number of basic symbols. The system was developed by Charles K. Bliss. Inspired by the Chinese pictorial writing, he developed a symbolic language which, as a universal pictorial language, should have both an "internal system" logic and serve to improve understanding between peoples and to remove cultural barriers. BLISS is comparable to Esperanto, but differs in that the language is a universal spoken language. His work was first put into practice in 1971 when it was introduced to cerebral palsy children at the Ontario Crippeld Children's Center in Toronto, Canada.

At the beginning of the seventies, BLISS was tested in Canada as a means of communication with people who could not or barely understand their speech. Mainly with non-speaking physically handicapped people who have little opportunity to communicate with their surroundings through gestures and hard-to-understand sounds. In the meantime, however, BLISS symbols are also used to support the mentally handicapped, multiply handicapped, speech impaired, aphasic and children with speech development delays and as a means of communication for people who cannot speak for other reasons. In Germany, this method has been used in schools for the physically handicapped since 1980 in order to provide non-speaking pupils with communication options that allow differentiated communication with parents, teachers and classmates.

(Gangkofer, 1993, p. 17f.)

The BLISS system contains many pictographic elements and thus picks up on a principle that was of great importance in the history of its creation. In the BLISS system, you can differentiate between real pictograms, such as "sun" or "chair". While the former is also a basic element in BLISS, the latter is composed of such basic elements. Pictograms are combined in this way and then form a new term that cannot be represented pictographically. The symbol for "language" consists of the symbols "mouth" and "ear", i.e. it is composed of two real pictograms

(Becker, Gangkofer, 1994, p.12).

1.2 Basic graphic forms

When you look into that BLISS Symbols Manual 1 it is noticeable that all symbols can be traced back to very few basic forms. In this respect, BLISS can be compared to alphabetic fonts, which also use a limited number of characters that are combined into meaningful words.

Examples of common forms of BLISS symbols:

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BLISS symbols come in different sizes. Charles Bliss was not interested in reproducing the actual proportions (the apple is as big as the tree). Rather, the symbols should be easily recognizable and reproducible. If you want to draw BLISS symbols, you can draw (or think) an earth and a sky line as an aid; With a few exceptions, all symbols can be displayed between these lines.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Not all BLISS symbols are of the same size. Some extend from the earth to the sky line, others do not.

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In some cases it is important to draw the size and position of the symbols precisely in order to avoid misunderstandings, e.g .:

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If there is no BLISS symbol for a word or an idea, you can put it together yourself - following certain construction rules. Additional symbols such as verb, noun or adjective indicators, strategy symbols such as “opposite of”, “part of”, “similar to” or “without” can be used to generate a number of additional meanings for each symbol (from: Weber, Harald. In: UNI SPECTRUM 1, 1997)

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2. Types of symbols

2.1 Pictograms in the BLISS system

The development of writing can be sketched up to the development of the alphabets. It is made up of analog images in the form of drawings, pictograms, etc. originated. In their external form, they have moved further and further away from this template, so that it is no longer recognizable in its final form. The original pictorial writings have specified themselves in two directions over the course of history:

Images gradually became logographic characters. The characters have no pronunciation rules. So the contents of the images are left over as semantic units. Of the fonts that still exist today, only the Chinese script has really moved completely in this direction.

With the development of the logograms, syllabic or alphabetic characters were created from images at the same time. The pronunciation and assignment of GRAPHEM / MORPHEM is based on the phonation of the images actually used. So it is not the semantic content that remains, only the sound. This process is described as the rebus principle.

The BLISS system can therefore be identified as a system that is not a pictorial font, but whose origins in the pictography cannot be overlooked. The proportion of pictographs in the BLISS system cannot be precisely quantified, but numerous BLISS symbols are pure pictograms, composed of pictograms or at least provided with a pictographic symbol part. The pictograms in the BLISS system have different functions.

(Gangkofer, 1993, p. 167f.)


1 ed. 1995 by the Federal Association for the Physically and Multiple Disabled e.V.

The manual lists all symbols according to the German alphabet, according to subject groups and their graphic form.

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