1998 Conference Proceedings

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Beth Sinteff, MS CCC-SLP
Sentient Systems Technology, Inc.
2100 Wharton St., Ste. 630
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Day Phone:1-800-344-1778


DynaVox and DynaMyte augmentative communication products include a 42,000-word vocabulary list. At least 9,000 of these vocabulary items are "tagged" with concepts, creating an association with the vocabulary items. For example, the vocabulary item "macaroni and cheese" is tagged with the broad concept "Food" and a more specific concept "Pasta." The system allows an individual to tag, as needed, vocabulary items that are not tagged.

There are approximately 200 concepts in the system. By definition, concepts are generalized ideas, thoughts or notions about objects. As people develop language skills, they perceive certain relationships between objects, actions, locations, and people. With concept tags, some of the generalized associations people make, are preprogrammed so common associations can be used to get to vocabulary more quickly. Concepts can be added to the system through a menu called the "Concept Browser". By adding concepts, an individual can create a fully customized vocabulary-association system to meet individual educational, business and conversational interests and needs.

Using Vocabulary Searches are directly beneficial to many augmentative communicators for communication. If that is true, why aren¹t these methods being used more frequently?

Participants attending this session will analyze three (3) examples of the application of vocabulary searching to meet long and short-term vocabulary needs in the home and school settings. Handouts will include printouts of the pages described and "How To" steps for creating vocabulary searches.


Vocabulary Searches make use of the concept-tagged vocabulary and allow people to electronically search for words that are then dynamically displayed on their communication screen.

A very broad concept (i.e., clothing) will allow a person to view many terms. A very specific concept (i.e., men's clothing) will provide less quantity and more specific vocabulary items. A customized concept with specific vocabulary items included will display only desired vocabulary.

In the 1996 CSUN paper, "DynaVox 2 CONCEPT TAGS AND VOCABULARY SEARCHES: What does this mean to AAC?" three primary reasons to conduct vocabulary searches and six positive outcomes for using vocabulary searches were listed. These are worth repeating here.


  1. To "see" the concepts and vocabulary items included in DynaVox.
  2. To quickly fill a communication page with words or symbols for use while talking.
  3. To create communication pages with keys called Search Buttons for more efficient communication.


  1. Increased diversity of language for the person who cannot read
  2. Increased diversity of language for the person learning to read
  3. Increased speed and diversity of language for the person who can read and write
  4. Decreased page changing for people who cannot navigate through multiple pages
  5. Increased speed of programming for people programming DynaVox 2 products.
  6. Increased ability to customize vocabulary and incorporate changes into the system more easily



Ray Peloquin is an adult DynaVox 2c communicator who has stored full sentences into his vocabulary editor. He has tagged these sentences with custom concepts he created. He then programmed Incoming Vocabulary Search buttons with link buttons to quickly access questions and comments during social communication. His application of these features will be demonstrated.


Teen-agers and "Generation X" are not shopping for the same clothes or listening to the same music as Baby Boomers. Creating custom concepts and then adding vocabulary to meet these fun and individual differences is easily done. This approach further defines the individual and allows for a broader range of conversation. Communication pages applying vocabulary search strategies for these topics will be demonstrated.


Reading instruction in schools generally follows specific curriculum guidelines to help students understand vocabulary while learning about words, sounds, letters, letter-sound associations, and the overall relationship between print, words, punctuation, and story meaning. Students are taught many skills to become literate individuals who read. Students are expected to participate verbally. Adding Custom Concepts and tagging vocabulary items can help educators present vocabulary in effective ways to help reading skills develop. Time permitting, two different methods for creating specific custom concepts and vocabulary for reading instruction applications will be shared.


As concepts and vocabulary needs arise, both concepts and vocabulary can be manipulated to meet individual needs. Concepts can be added through the Concept Browser. Vocabulary can be edited, added and deleted in the Vocabulary Editor. Vocabulary editing offers many options further discussed here.

Vocabulary items in DynaVox technology can have one or more of the following parts:

Part of Speech (i.e., noun)
Vocabularies in English and other languages have parts of speech. Therefore, vocabulary in DynaVox has these as well.

Concept (i.e., pasta, accessories)
People make associations with vocabulary items. Some associations are shared by many people while others are unique. Often, words are associated one way at one time and another way at another time. Vocabulary items in DynaVox can be tagged with more than one concept to artificially match these language processes.

Frequency (1 - 100)
A vocabulary item used frequently will have a value closer to 100 (i.e., the, is, to). A vocabulary item used infrequently will have a value closer to 1 (i.e., hors d¹oeuvre, ). Frequency values can be changed.

Symbol (i.e., custom symbol or existing symbols)
A vocabulary item can be represented by a symbol. This symbol may be a DynaSym included in the technology or a custom symbol designed using the draw program in the DynaVox software. Vocabulary is commonly tagged with both a concept and a symbol for use by nonreaders. For example, a sports team may be recognized by a symbol without the name being read.

A vocabulary item that is already part of the vocabulary list, or a new item entered by a user (i.e., San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, proper nouns, words, phrases or sentences) can be assigned any or all of the parts listed above. Much of the existing vocabulary is already assigned values. These can be changed to meet individual needs.


Dynamic display features offer multiple options to meet individual needs of augmentative communicator's. Vocabulary search features available on DynaVox and DynaMyte technology have powerful applications. When applied these features can offer people, who are not able to use their oral speech, access to the same vocabulary as their oral counterparts.

To learn more about these applications and how to program this technology, contact Sentient Systems to learn about the Getting Started and Breakthroughs training programs offered in your area.


DynaVox 2, DynaVox 2c, DynaVox 2 Dos, DynaVox 2 MAC are registered trademarks of Sentient Systems Technology, Inc.

Sentient Systems Technology, Inc. (1995) DynaVox 2 Manuals Pittsburgh: Sentient Systems Technology, Inc. 1-800-344-1778

Thank you to CSUN staff for the opportunity to share this information with people interested in augmentative communication technology.

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