Message Selection

Where Should I Begin?

  • Make the messages as motivating as possible.
  • It’s not enough to provide choices for activities. Provide vocabulary for choice making, commenting (my turn, your turn, not fair, who’s next?), and feelings (Hooray!) during an activity.
  • Use single words whenever possible to encourage combining messages for generative language.
  • Include messages that reflect what the individual or the individual’s peers would say.
  • Respond to voice output messages just as if the individual had verbalized the message. If the message is not appropriate, remind the individual of this and let them know when it would be appropriate.

Vocabulary Selection

  • Core or High-Frequency Vocabulary: A few hundred words that make up about 80% of daily conversation. These consist of pronouns, articles, and prepositions and are an integral part of effective communication across settings. It does not include long lists of highly specific words (e.g., every type of food). Symbols for core vocabulary words are often abstract. Additional Vocabulary Lists & Checklists are available.
  • Fringe or Extended Vocabulary: Words that make up about 20% of a conversation. They are highly specific to the individual, environments or activities. Symbols for core vocabulary are often concrete.
  • Messages that Make Low and Mid-Tech Communication Devices Flexible: Add messages like “not on this page,” “more choices please,” or “change overlay.”

What to Avoid

  • Messages that the individual can gesture or verbalize (i.e. yes/no, bathroom)
  • Messages that may be abstract in nature (i.e. “yes” or “no.”)
  • Messages about skills the individual has not mastered yet (i.e. “bathroom”)
  • Message that an individual may use for stimulation and not communication

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