Core Vocabulary for Communication Displays

Core Vocabulary and the AAC Performance Report
Katya Hill, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Barry Romich, P.E.

High frequency vocabulary or Core vocabulary is the relatively small number of words that constitute the vast majority of what is said in normal communication. With a few hundred words, a person can say over 80% of what is needed (Vanderheiden and Kelso, 1987). Extended, or fringe, vocabulary can be in the thousands or tens of thousands of words that are used infrequently, but constitute the remaining small portion of communication. Core vocabulary typically is consistent from one person to another, across ages, across environments, and across activities. Extended vocabulary typically is specific to particular environments and activities. Total communication requires the use of both core and extended vocabulary.

For people who rely on AAC, appropriate use of core vocabulary is essential to effective communication (Yorkston, Dowden, Honsinger, Marriner, and Smith,1988; Fried-Oken and More, 1992; Baker, Musselwhite, & Kwasniewski, 1999). If use of core vocabulary is low, communication effectiveness is likely to suffer. It is for this reason, that one of the quantitative summary measures of communication included in the AAC Performance Report is use of core vocabulary.

Core Vocabulary lists can be accessed below: