University of Cologne


Implementing the Cologne Vocabulary on a speech generating device (SGD) (Sachse, Wagter & Schmidt)

short description

Based on the Cologne Communication Binder (with a strong focus on core vocabulary) as well as research recommendations for display design the vocabulary for the speech generating device ‘MyCore’ was developed in cooperation with RehaMedia and Jabbla.


[Translate to English:] gezeichnete Zielscheibe mit Pfeil in der Mitte

Target Group

children and adolescents with complex communication needs

Funded by

Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), Central SME* Innovation Programme (Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand, ZIM)

[Translate to English:] leere Sanduhr


2011 - 2013

Project Management

Prof. Dr. Jens Boenisch

Dr. Stefanie K. Sachse

Research Aim

The project was designed to fulfill three objectives

  1. Transferring the vocabulary structure of the Cologne Communication Materials.
  2. Incorporating the latest research findings.
  3. Implementing teaching strategies to support language development.

Vocabulary and Versions

Vocabulary selection is based on findings identifying the most frequently used words of preschool and school-aged students (Boenisch, 2014). Preschool and School-aged students (with and without disability) who attended different school forms (schools for special education, primary schools, secondary schools) and participated in different activities (structured and unstructured activities) were part of the study.


The full version of MyCore is comprised of approximately 2.000 different words (basic form). In addition to the words acquired from the word frequency lists,

  • AAC specific vocabulary (e.g. new topy, no symbol, yes/no question),
  • hot phrases to control the conversation (e.g. How are you?, I don’t know. ) and
  • developmental vocabulary to extend communicative competence (e.g. preposition and adverbs are useful in German to extend the beginning verb lexicon, Penner et al., 1999)

are included.

It is, of course, possible to also add and save relevant individual vocabulary as well as messages.

For some AAC users the full version with 2.000 words might be too complex. Therefore, a reduced version of MyCore is provided. The reduced version contains around 800 words and less grammar functions (e.g. nouns: only singular and plural, no other cases). A unique feature is, that all words provided in the full version are only marked as invisible in the reduced version. This feature has the following advantages:

1. The hidden vocabulary and grammar can gradually be made available according to the individual needs of the AAC user.

2. The position of vocabulary and grammar stays the same even as the vocabulary expands, thus facilitating automatic use (using the same motor plan).

3. Individually added vocabulary remains in the system and does not need to be added and saved again with the expansion of vocabulary.

The vocabulary and grammar functions can expand and grow alongside the abilities of the user, always containing a few more words and functions than are currently being used by the AAC user, in order to support language development.

It is recommended to ensure an early access to the full version to facilitate rather than limit language experiences.

Another development was an English version of MyCore (BE: MyCore English; AE: Score). Importantly, the English version is not a translation of the German version, but an individual development based on research on English core vocabulary. Additionally, all the design principles from the Bilingual Cologne Communication Materials were implemented in the English version as well.



Sachse, S.K., Wagter, J. & Schmidt, L. (2013). Das Kölner Vokabular und die Übertragung auf eine elektronische Kommunikationshilfe. In A. Hallbauer, T. Hallbauer & M. Hüning-Meier (Eds.), UK kreativ. Wege in der Unterstützten Kommunikation (p. 35-53). Karlsruhe: von Loeper.

Boenisch, J. & Sachse, S.K. (2016). Alltagskommunikation ermöglichen und Sprachentwicklung fördern am Beispiel der elektronischen Kommunikationshilfe MyCore. In ISAAC (Ed.), Handbuch der Unterstützten Kommunikation (p. 04.062.002 – 04.062.009). Karlsruhe: von Loeper.