Who uses Bliss
The number of persons currently using Blissymbols has been very difficult to determine. The system is used with persons with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI) in over 33 countries and Blissymbol materials have been translated into more than 15 languages. The peak of Blissymbol training occurred in 1982 and at that time, a total of 8,000 instructors had attended workshops worldwide. Each of those instructors would have interacted with a number of students, but as well, the individual Blissymbol user would have benefited from the instruction of several instructors.
There is no single definitive study providing statistics regarding the incidence of individuals needing alternative forms of communication due to a severe speech impairment. Until such a study is undertaken, we can only reference several demographic studies conducted in various regions over the past twenty years. The results of these studies would indicate that the incidence of individuals who have required native communication lies between .15% and .60% of the total school population. Of this group, it has been estimated from a study involving individuals with SSPI in Ontario, that 41% of those using communication boards have used Blissymbols. Some of these individuals will have moved to the use of spelling and word systems.
Currently Blissymbolics is most widely used in AAC in Sweden, Norway and Finland in Scandinavia, and to a varying degree in other European countries, such as Belgium, Spain, and Italy. In Sweden, around 2-300 persons yearly are attending Bliss instructional cources, primarily arranged by SPSM (the Swedish Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools).
Blissymbolics is gaining re-newed interest in several Eastern European countries and in Russia. Bliss is taught and used in several other countries around the world, such as Brazil, South Africa, Egypt and Bangladesh.
While the numbers of persons who use Blissymbols as their alternative form of communication is not large, they are spread all around the world and benefit greatly from the Internet. As well as having their lives enriched, they are in a position to assist speaking persons through demonstrating that Internet communication can take place between persons of different language backgrounds.