The grid choices in Snap Core First range from 1 button to 80 buttons and it even allows you to make custom grid sizes! This allows AAC users to start at a level that is appropriate for today, but systematically grow page sets with more vocabulary as skills improve.
When you set up a new user for the first time, you will be taken through a series of screens where you will have to pick a voice and access method. You will also be asked to pick a grid size. Rule of thumb… pick a grid size that the user can access accurately, either through touch, scanning or eye tracking - while also providing the most buttons for vocabulary.
The reason why there are so many grid size choices in Snap Core First is two-fold:
- First, every AAC user is different and their needs are very individualized. We always try to give as much flexibility as possible, so our system fits anyone’s specific needs.
- Second, our hope is that if an individual starts at a level where their vocabulary choices are limited to say 9 choices on a screen, we want them to have the opportunity to move up to 50 or more choices on the screen (as their skills improve and their language grows). However, you wouldn’t jump a new reader from picture books to Shakespeare so it’s important to have incremental growth along the way. The various grid sizes help that growth, while maintaining overall placement of vocabulary locations and adding appropriate additional vocabulary along the way.
So as a parent, therapist, teacher how do you know where to start? We want the user to be successful and avoid mis-hits and frustration, but we also don’t want to limit vocabulary choices. Well, that’s actually your answer in a nut-shell!
But if you want to get more specific, here are some of our suggestions:
- Can they easily see the size of the buttons and the icons? This may involve a consult with a vision professional or an OT if you are not sure about their visual acuity. Also, think about if having too many buttons on the screen visually distracts them? Maybe the user can physically see small symbols but when there’s 20 of them, do they have a lot more difficulty?
- Can they access accurately? In this instance, access means, can they hit the one they mean to hit? If they are touch users, can they touch that size button without missing it. If they’re eye gaze users, can they look accurately at that size choice without picking the one next to it?
- Based on the answer to the above questions, determine which grid will allow the most buttons for vocabulary options.
- Once you have chosen the most buttons this user can physically handle, are you worried it’s too much for their language skills? Instead of going down in grid size, try hiding a few buttons and then showing them as the individual becomes more familiar with the system.
- Lastly, keep reassessing, can they do more? There’s no exact time table for this, everyone is different, but if they are communicating really well with a 5x5 grid, instead of stopping there and thinking ‘ah ha we got it!’ maybe move them up to a 6x6 and see what magic happens! This is where the activities and goal grids in Pathways for Core First can help too. Download for free from the Apple or Windows Store.
If you would like more information on initial set up of a grid size, there is a video called Getting Started – Set up Core First in the Help & Resources video section of Pathways for Core First, or watch it here.