Assistive Technology Network

Vocabulary Selection

The importance of vocabulary selection cannot be emphasized enough. It is highly connected to the successful use of the AAC device. If the student is not motivated to use the device, it will not be used. Vocabulary must be both meaningful and motivating to the student. The selection of vocabulary varies based on a variety of factors, such as the student’s interests, function of communication, activities when communication takes place and communication partners. Other considerations include matching the visual representation (i.e., objects, True Object Based Icons (TOBI), photos, line drawings, and words) with the needs of the student and using core vocabulary to make the communication system more flexible. Vocabulary is ever-changing and requires ongoing commitment and planning from those supporting the student. Teach the student to use new vocabulary by modeling and prompting the use of the AAC system. It's very important to make sure your student can pass the stranger test by communicating with anyone, anywhere, at any time.