2002 Conference Proceedings

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WORDPOWER - THE POWER OF A WORD-BASED VOCABULARY ACROSS PLATFORMS

Nancy L. Inman, M.A.T., CCC/SLP
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Department of Assistive Technology
Baltimore, MD 21205

WordPower software is a unique vocabulary design for an augmentative/alternative communication device. 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 top 10 words account for 24 percent of written text
* The top 50 words account for 41.2 percent of written text
* The top 100 words account for 48.1 percent of written text

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. 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 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:

* Questions
* Interjections
* Pronouns
* Negatives
* Helping verbs
* Verbs

* Articles
* Prepositions and conjunctions
* Describing words
* Indefinite pronouns
* Time words

The design of WordPower uses the Fitzgerald Key arrangement. The Fitzgerald format follows a left to right linguistic order. Question words and people are positioned on the left of the display, followed by action words, then descriptors, and finally object nouns (Fitzgerald, 1954).

Picture WordPower is included as part of the WordPower vocabulary package. Picture WordPower is a word-based vocabulary for individuals whose literacy or physical accessing skills do not allow them to use WordPower. Picture WordPower consists of single-hit words, category-based words, and spelling with word prediction. The core words of Picture WordPower are categorized, color-coded and alphabetized for easy access. The main semantic categories include:

* Questions
* People / names
* Social words & greetings
* Pronouns
* Verbs
* Negatives
* Articles
* Indefinite pronouns

* Prepositions / conjunctions
* Describing words
* Time words
* Places
* Noun categories
* Weather
* Pre-stored sentences
* Jokes

Platforms for WordPower and Picture WordPower now include DynaVox and DynaMyte, Prentke Romich's Pathfinder, Enkidu's Tablet, and Mayer-Johnson's Speaking Dynamically Pro. Each of these programs will be presented and reviewed.


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