Proloquo2Go 4.0 Goes Deeper into the Core of Communication with Crescendo

Every language has a small set of words that make up most of the words we use. In English, for example, 50 words account for 40-50 percent of what we say, 100 words account for 60 percent and 200-400 words account for 80 percent of all words spoken in typical conversation across all ages. So quick access to these “core words” is a powerful tool for efficient and effective communication.
 
Our first Core Word vocabulary
In June 2012, AssistiveWare released Proloquo2Go 2.0 with a new pre-programmed vocabulary with carefully chosen core words on its home page. We also included a few key core words on most fringe pages, in the top row. People told us they loved the new Core Word vocabulary and the inclusion of core words on the fringe pages. But we received a lot of feedback that the core words on the fringe pages should be in exactly the same position as they appeared on the home page. We went back to work and are happy to say we’ve addressed these concerns, making many other cool features available in Proloquo2Go 4, with a new vocabulary called Crescendo™.

Motor planning better supported with Crescendo

Keeping words in a consistent location on an AAC vocabulary is very important. It enables the user to quickly locate the words he or she wants to use. This consistency takes advantage of one of the ways we learn how to do things - motor planning. A motor plan is a set of instructions the motor part of the brain sends to the muscles when it receives a command to do something. When you think “I want to press the button for ‘I’,” this needs to be translated into a motor plan your fingers will understand. Any motor plan that is consistent will be learned more easily and executed more quickly. So if we know that the word “I” always appears in the upper left corner of any page in an AAC system, we don’t have to visually or physically search for the button - we just apply the motor plan we have used many times in the past.
 
Core words on the Home and fringe pages
To support motor planning in Proloquo2Go 4, we changed the way we provide access to core words on fringe pages. If a word appears on the home page and a fringe page, it will be in exactly the same place on both pages. Not all the buttons on the home page appear on the fringe page - there isn’t room! We’ve determined which core words are most likely to be used on each fringe page, and which are less useful for a particular category of words. Only the core words that are most useful for the particular fringe category will appear on the fringe page. Places where the less useful core words appear on the home page are used for words from the fringe category or for core words that don’t appear on the home page, but are useful for this fringe category.
 
Appropriate words per page
For example, on the Proloquo2Go 4 breakfast page, “eat” and “drink” appear in the places where “go” and “have” appear on the home page. “Eat” and “drink” don’t appear on the home page in the 6x6 grid size (although they do appear on the home page for larger grid sizes, so they are still core words). “Eat” and “drink” are very important on a food-related page, and “go” and “have” are much less important, so we use their locations for core words more appropriate for this fringe category.
 
Home page and Breakfast page in 6x6 grid size
Home page and Breakfast page in 6x6 grid size

Core word templates for all

We’ve put a lot of work into designing how core words work on our fringe pages, and we wanted to allow anyone creating a new folder to be able to make use of this work. So, we turned these arrangements of fringe-related core words into templates. Proloquo2Go 4 includes 12 core word-based templates designed for different kinds fringe words, like Food, People, Things and Places.
 
When you make a new folder, you will be able to select one of these templates and automatically get all the relevant core words in the right place without needing to be an expert on vocabulary design. Each template also contains customized versions for each of the 23 grid sizes we support, so you’ll be guaranteed that no matter what grid size you choose, if a word appears on the home page and the fringe page, it will appear in exactly the same place.
 
Choosing a template for a new page
Choosing a template for a new page

Advance more easily into Core Word

You may remember that in Proloquo2Go 2 and 3 we offered two different pre-programmed vocabularies: Core Word (which we’ve described above) and Basic Communication. We very much believe that core word systems offer the best language model for people who use AAC, and we only intended Basic Communication to be a stepping stone into AAC use for those at the very beginning of their communication journey. Unfortunately, what we found was that Basic Communication was being used for many more users than intended – both users for whom it was appropriate, and those who would have been better served by Core Word.
 
Core words in Proloquo2Go 3
Because Basic and Core were designed as two separate vocabularies, if you wanted to switch someone to Core, you need to create a new user and recustomize it - either by adding new but- tons or by copying and pasting from the old vocabulary to the new one. Of course, this is very timeconsuming, which may lead to postponing the transition to a higher vocabulary level and, in the end, limiting the user and delaying growth of language skills.
 
Core words in Proloquo2Go 4
In Proloquo2Go 4, to make sure people don’t become stuck at a specific vocabulary level, you will be able to switch between levels within the same vocabulary. All you need to do is change the vocabulary level in the Options. It goes without saying that some content is different, it is another vocabulary level after all. However, everything that you have customized yourself will still be available. In some cases, buttons you created may have moved to Storage, but they can be moved easily without copying and pasting.
 
You will also be able to switch individual pages between levels, enabling you to customize each folder to the user’s abilities. Every vocabulary will not only be as personalized as needed, it will also be a lot easier and faster to do so.

Introducing the new vocabulary levels

So what are these vocabulary levels and how do you decide which to use?
  • Basic Communication - In Proloquo2Go 4 Basic Communication still offers sentence starters and is very much geared towards making requests and simple comments. Basic Communication does not provide support for creating grammatically correct sentences or developing language skills and vocabulary. It does, however, offer a way to communicate immediately about basic needs. We strongly urge people to try Intermediate or Advanced Core as soon as possible.
  • Intermediate Core - In Proloquo2Go 3’s Core Word vocabulary, larger fringe folders, such as Verbs, Adjectives and Food, were filled with sub-folders for smaller, more manageable subcategories, such as Sensing Verbs, Colors and Breakfast. This design required additional navigation and some abstract thinking in order to find what you were looking for. In Intermediate Core, when you open one of these larger fringe category folders, right away you’ll see the most frequently used words in the fringe category. The subfolders are still available, but you no longer need to use them to reach your most frequently used fringe words. Of course, these frequently used fringe words are completely customizable so it can be adjusted to the user’s personality and needs.
  • Advanced Core - The structure of Advanced Core is the same as our original Core Word vocabulary. It’s really intended for those who are comfortable with the concept of subcategories and can navigate through an additional level to find the vocabulary they want.
Describing words for Basic Communication, Intermediate Core and Advanced Core
Describing words for Basic Communication, Intermediate Core and Advanced Core

Activity Templates

Tying these three vocabulary levels together are our new Activity Templates. These templates will provide support for users who need all vocabulary for an activity on a single page, while still retaining the advantages of core words and motor planning.
 
Activity-specific pages
We’ve found that activity-specific pages have historically consisted of a few sentence starters and a predominance of nouns with a few verbs and adjectives that are highly specific to the particular activity at hand. These kinds of pages enable non-speaking students to make choices during the activity and answer questions to show knowledge of the curriculum, but they do not contain the vocabulary needed to develop more general communication skills outside of a particular lesson. Such activity-specific pages tend to disappear once the activity is over, so even if the specific vocabulary was useful to a student outside of the lesson, it may be difficult for the student to find it again.
 
Core word-based vocabulary
Instead of activity-specific pages, we have been advocating for use of core word-based vocabulary. This vocabulary, in combination with a stable system of category-based fringe folders for nouns, verbs and adjectives, can be used to communicate in all situations.
 
Templates based on Core Word Home
That’s why when we designed our seven new Activity Templates, we based them on our Core Word home pages. When you create an activity-specific folder using these templates, appropriate core words will appear in the same place they appear on the home page. This will give users additional practice using these core words during a variety of activities - and they’ll have an easier time finding these words because they appear in consistent locations on all pages. Activity templates include themes such as Create, Motor Play, Out & About and Reading.
 
Template and placeholder buttons
Each Activity Template contains two kinds of buttons. Templates buttons are used for vocabulary that’s useful in multiple activities - things like “I”, “want”, “more” and “all done.” Placeholder buttons are used for words or folders that are specific to a particular activity. For example, in a folder that is used for playing with blocks, the words “block”, “big” and “build” are very useful. Placeholder buttons are put in the template to act as hints for which kinds of vocabulary to put in particular locations. So, a placeholder button might have a label “verb 1”, “adjective 1” or “noun 1.” This is to indicate to the person creating an activity that it is recommended to create a verb or adjective specific to the activity here.
 
Using the Out & About template to make a shopping page
Using the Out & About template to make a shopping page
 

More to explore

This article first appeared in the June/July, 2015 edition of Closing The Gap Solutions. COPYRIGHT ©Closing The Gap, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited.

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