2001 Conference Proceedings

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WORDPOWER - WORD BASED VOCABULARY SYSTEM FOR AAC USERS WITH LITERACY

 

Nancy L. Inman, M.A.T., CCC-SLP
Program Manager
Department of Assistive Technology
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 North Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205

 

WordPower is a new vocabulary design for an AAC communication device. It combines the features of core vocabulary, spelling and word prediction. This easy to learn, word-based, generative language system will be demonstrated on different device platforms with case study presentations.

WordPower software is a unique vocabulary design for an augmentative/alternative communication device. There are presently versions for the DynaVox 3100 and DynaMyte 3100 by DynaVox Systems, and the Pathfinder and Liberator II by the Prentke Romich Company. WordPower combines the features of core vocabulary, spelling and word prediction. The system takes advantage of the fact that while we may have a normal speaking vocabulary of between 10,000 and 30,000 words, a core of just 100 words accounts for approximately 50 percent of words spoken. Kucera and Francis’ 1967 study, which analyzed written language samples for word frequency, revealed the following:

The following is a sample of those frequently occurring words:

I to you the that have

a it my and of will

in is me on do was

Words such as these are repeated over and over throughout our language. WordPower uses these 100+ core words in conjunction with spelling and word prediction.


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WordPower

WordPower was originally designed for an individual in need of an augmentative communication device based on words. A vocabulary based on pre-stored sentences would not meet his communication needs. Though he could see the advantage of a picture-based system with symbol sequencing, he did not want to learn the complex language coding system. At the same time, he wanted more than a system based on spelling and word prediction. WordPower provided him a fast and efficient language, with minimal time and effort required for learning the system.

The core words of WordPower are categorized, color-coded and alphabetized for easy access. The main semantic categories include:

Word prediction systems have provided more and more advantages in the last few years including features such as grammatical prediction, frequency, recency, and the ability to easily add words. WordPower’s word prediction system has been customized. The word predictor is set up so that the WordPower core words are not prioritized. Therefore, the word prediction keys are reserved for less common words and word derivatives that the system operator cannot access from the core. The word predictor has been carefully customized according to Beukelman et al’s 1984 study that reported the most commonly used words in our language.

WordPower is an easy to learn, word-based, generative language system.


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Picture WordPower

Picture WordPower is available for the DynaVox 3100 and DynaMyte 3100. Picture WordPower software is a version of WordPower that utilizes both written words and pictures to represent language. Picture WordPower may be used as an alternative to WordPower, or as a way of introducing an individual to a word based vocabulary until ready to use full WordPower. Reasons for using Picture WordPower might include the following:

Access- Picture WordPower keys are larger and easier to access

Low vision- Picture WordPower keys are larger and easier to see

Level of literacy- literacy skills may require picture support to enhance comprehension

Age- children just learning to read should begin with Picture WordPower

The words of Picture WordPower are categorized, color-coded and alphabetized for easy access. Picture WordPower includes:

articles pronouns

describing words people

negatives questions

prepositions social

conjunctions time words

places verbs and helping verbs

animals health numbers

appliances holidays party

art hygiene school

assistive technology jobs sports

birds & insects kitchen utensils toys & activities

body money TV

clothes music vehicles

food & drinks nature weather

furniture news work


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