Core vocabulary consists of the top 100-300 words used across languages and contexts.  It is the bases of most of the programs and applications used on AAC devices (from low to high tech).  But this does not mean that the AAC device or program it is ready “out of the box” so to speak for the individual.


Something that I have spoken about before is the importance of individualizing core vocabulary.  Now this does not mean I don’t use Core Vocabulary.   Core vocabulary is so named as it contains some of the most important and often used words for communication.  But I do find it is important to personalize the AAC vocabulary sets for my students, clients, and families.  I use core as my basis and add personalization.

These are some things that I personalize with an individuals AAC device or page set:

  • I ensure that the verbs on the main page include everyday high frequency verbs that the individual uses.
  • Within folders such as food and toys, I make sure that personal choices are included as well as general items.
  • I use real pictures when appropriate such as family and friends.
  • I add favorite movies and characters to the appropriate folders.  I add the characters nested in its own folder in the “people” folder.
  • Another thing that I do is personalize the “I”, “me”, and “my” pronouns for the individual.  I update this to include the individuals skin tone and hair color.
  • Add phrases and “quick fire” comments personalized for the individual.
  • I set the skin tone and hair color to “diverse” setting where available.

So lets take a look at what personalization can look like:


As you can see there is still a robust set of vocabulary on the starter pages, but they have been updated or personalized. 

One thing that I do when setting up vocabulary for an individual is I set up word to folder linking.  So if you have every used WordPower or LAMP when you click on “eat” it may open into another “folder” or give options to complete the “phrase” or sentence.  This ease of navigation can be a HUGE benefit for our AAC user. 

So instead of having to push “I” then “eat” and then “things” or “food” folder.  The verb is linked to the folder that you would typically use.  So eat is linked or opens the food folder.  When you click on “go” it would take you to “places” or “location” folder.  

Setting this up can take some time, but once you have your base vocabulary set up, you can update and personalize it for your other kiddos/clients/students.  You don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel!  

Real quick I wanted to share a newish feature.  A feature that more of our AAC programs are adding is a “diversity setting” for the skin tone and hair color of individuals throughout the vocabulary.  I just discovered how easy it is to update this on TD Snap and TouchChat with WordPower.  I have included a link to the video demonstrating how to update this.  Click to view the video on Instagram.   

If you have any questions, please drop me a note!

Shannon Archer, M.S., CCC-SLP