Are signs and symbols the same thing?

No they are not. In terms of communication, signs are shapes or gestures usually made with the hands as part of a ‘sign language’ like Signalong, Makaton or British Sign Language.

Symbols are simple pictures that stand for words. There are lots of different symbol ‘vocabularies’, a bit like there are different alphabets for some of the world’s languages. It doesn’t really matter which one you use as long as you are consistent.