1999 Conference Proceedings

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Dannel Friel
Product and Applications Trainer
DynaVox Systems, Inc.
1885 E. Maryland Ave.St. Paul, MN 55119
Phone: 651-776-3731
E-Mail: dfriel@earthlink.net


A primary key to successful augmentative communication is vocabulary. Most of us find it challenging to provide access to vocabulary for the person using an AAC device. This is particularly difficult when attempting to predict the flow of conversations. The need for versatile vocabulary is quickly realized. This session will focus on accomplishing the task of providing a person using an AAC device language that enables them to communicate effectively.


DynaVox concept-tagged vocabulary can empower a user's ability to communicate. DynaVox concepts are based upon different associations people make with words and things. The DynaVox is able to sort through the concept-tagged vocabulary to generate vocabulary lists. By presenting these dynamic lists of words, phrases and sentences, the DynaVox increases the opportunity to access vocabulary more efficiently.

In order to generate a list the DynaVox must be given parameters to look for. This is achieved through the utilization of the vocabulary search feature. A vocabulary search specifies information about the vocabulary to be located. A list is then generated that can be viewed in search buttons on a communication page. The search button content is able to change depending on the selections made by the DynaVox user.

How to include searches into a user's communication strategy is dependent on the user's needs and abilities. During this presentation two very different search based strategies will be addressed. The first employs searches for the person requiring symbol representation with limited literacy skills and a desire to use vocabulary beyond a small set of core words. The second utilizes searches for the literate person who uses spelling as their primary means of generating spoken and written communication messages.

Limited Literacy Skill Application

This strategy categorizes vocabulary by concept associations. Each vocabulary search is defined by specific concepts, parts of speech, symbols and the frequency-of-use of the words. Terms related to a concept are displayed on a popup, as well as multiple terms that are similar to one another. DynaSyms are used to represent concepts and vocabulary.

To utilize this strategy a DynaVox user selects a category from the master page. The DynaVox performs a vocabulary search. A general list of single word vocabulary items related to the selected concept is generated. This list is then presented in search buttons on a popup. The user either selects an item from the list presented or they select a corresponding concept located on the popup. When a second concept is selected a further defined vocabulary search replaces the original list with a new more specific list of vocabulary.

For example, selecting the concept Amounts, generates a general list of amount related vocabulary items including all, each, exceedingly, lots, and small. Selecting the concept Size, from the Amounts popup, replaces the original list with new vocabulary including, big, chubby, gallon, huge, puny, and tall. The result of this strategy is a rich set of vocabulary items that enable the DynaVox user to generate novel messages.

Literate Speller Application

This strategy combines vocabulary search and word prediction. Each vocabulary search is defined by a topic or activity. Terms related to a topic are displayed in search buttons on a keyboard page. In addition, each vocabulary search has the Prediction attribute set to ON. This lets the search button vocabulary items match the sequence of letters entered by the user.

To utilize this strategy a DynaVox user first selects a topic from a navigational popup. Next they select a letter on the keyboard page. Then, the DynaVox presents a list of anticipated next words in predictor buttons and the results of the vocabulary search in search buttons. Based on the sequence of letters, the predictor and the search buttons both change.

For example, selecting the topic Food, fills the search buttons with, candies, fish, food, nuts and pie. While the predictor buttons fill with words commonly used such as, a, are, I, is, it. Starting to type a sentence the predictor and search buttons present vocabulary beginning with the same letter(s). However, all the vocabulary found in the search buttons are food-related. As a result, the opportunity to access words, phrases, and even sentences that relate to the current topic are increased.


These strategies demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing vocabulary search as a means for a person to access vocabulary. This presentation will include clarification of how to set up search strategies, exploration of the vocabualry and disscussion of dynamic language outcomes. With the knowledge gained participants will be able to understand how DynaVox concept-tagged vocabulary influences an AAC users ability to communicate effectively.

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