How are fringe words organized in Proloquo?

  • 3 minute read

Low-frequency words like nouns are organized in category folders in AssistiveWare Proloquo®. In this blogpost we explain how this was done. As part of the “Proloquo explained” blog series, it is written for anyone who wants an in-depth explanation of the design of the new Proloquo AAC app.

(Updated February 14, 2024)

Noun categories

Fringe vocabulary are the low-frequency words that are specific to a certain topic or activity. Proloquo organizes high-frequency core vocabulary in columns with tabs, while fringe words are accessed in topic folders under the yellow tab. Each folder is organized semantically with words relevant to that particular topic.

How are fringe words organized in Proloquo Screenshot 1
The fringe folders in AssistiveWare Proloquo

The folders with the most common and frequently used words are available in the yellow column directly from the Home screen. These include folders such as People, which includes words about families, personal identity, and social roles, like friend and neighbor.

The first button in each fringe folder is always the name of the folder itself. This button helps serve as a visual cue about which folder you are in. The most frequently used words on a topic are on the first page of the relevant fringe folder. For example, words like mom, dad, baby, and friend are used by many users and are on the first page of People. Some fringe folders have a second page. Less frequently used words, like household and roommate, are on the second page.

Fringe folders are organized in a shallow hierarchy. There is never more than one layer of sub-folders nested within any fringe folder. For example, in People, there are subfolders for Family, Friends, Roles, About me, and Identity.

There are empty spaces on the right side of each fringe folder. These are placeholders for users to personalize and add their own buttons. For example, there is space for users to add their own family members and friends in the People folders.

How are fringe words organized in Proloquo Screenshot 2
The People folder in AssistiveWare Proloquo

Other fringe words

Fringe folders contain more than nouns. They also contain lower-frequency domain-specific verbs and adjectives, such as delicious and yucky in Food. Some of these verbs can also be used as nouns, such as drive and crash in Vehicles.

A comprehensive fringe vocabulary

The fringe vocabulary in Proloquo is comprehensive. In part, this means that it includes the folders commonly found in robust AAC systems, such as People, Places, Vehicles, Animals and School. Time is available from the Home page. It includes all the nouns you would expect, like days, months, and seasons, as well as descriptors such as before and after. Time also includes less common terms, like temporary and forever.

But Proloquo is comprehensive in a way that goes beyond the usual AAC product. We identified fringe words that are so essential that every AAC user needs access to them. These are the words that help us make sense of our world. Concept words like stranger, partner, and bully are used infrequently, but represent important concepts to teach and learn. (You will find them in a subfolder of People.)

Some of these words are organized more by the functional use of the word. For example, verbs such as discuss and refuse are found in the folder called Repair. The Repair folder includes the words we use to talk about communication, with the words we use to explain ourselves and what we meant. When young AAC users are ready to go beyond saying no, they can use the Repair folder to demand or complain.

How are fringe words organized in Proloquo Screenshot 3
The Repair folder in AssistiveWare Proloquo

Many essential words are organized in fringe folders that are broadly aligned with the school subjects where they may be taught. For example, nouns like history, power, and freedom can be found in Society. Descriptors like local vs. global are in Geography. Count, multiply, and measure are part of Math. Story, alphabet, and word are in Literacy. Together, the sum total of fringe folders help teach the concept of categories, as well as the content of the school curriculum.


Marzano, R. (2020). Teaching Basic, Advanced, and Academic Vocabulary. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Resources.


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