About The Gateway to Language and Learning Augmentative Communication App
Gateway to Language and Learning© is a core word app or page set intended for severely speech-impaired children and adults with a wide range of disabilities including autism, apraxia and cerebral palsy who communicate through the use of an augmentative and alternative communication device (AAC). In addition to its research-based core vocabulary, each Gateway page set includes thematic pages that help to facilitate communication in social, educational, and leisure activities. Gateway is designed to work within several widely used AAC products including the Proloquo2Go App, the TouchChat HD App and the Tobii Dynavox Compass App. The Gateway Vocabulary within Assistiveware’s Proloquo2Go App has been updated to include sensory-based vocabulary for children and adults with autism.
Created in 1997 by Joan Bruno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Gateway was the first core word page set designed for use on a dynamic display device. Gateway was developed as an outcome of her clinical work with a bright, physically-impaired 5-year old boy who was learning to use AAC to communicate and to achieve requisite core curriculum competencies. He wanted to read aloud in class like his peers. His parents wanted him to develop the skills needed so he could eventually go to college. His school wanted him to compete educationally and succeed to the fullest of his potential.
In an effort to achieve these goals, Dr. Bruno customized his DynaVox AAC device, creating a 75-location grid that contained a core word vocabulary system of over 800 words. Vocabulary was arranged in a Fitzgerald Key format. Each word was accessed using an average of less than 1.5 key selections per word. His core vocabulary included a combination of the 150+ words on his manual board, frequently occurring words in his 1st grade reading curriculum, and other research-based core vocabulary.
This page set laid the foundation for the development of Gateway to Language and Learning augmentative communication app and in 1998, DynaVox was given an exclusive license to distribute the Gateway© vocabulary. It became the primary core vocabulary in the InterAACT page set and was include in all device sold in English-speaking countries. Over the years Gateway has evolved to reflect advances in technology and best practices in AAC. In 2013, the Gateway augmentative communication app moved from being exclusive to the Tobii Dynavox line of products, to becoming available on Assistiveware’s Proloquo2Go App and Saltillo’s TouchChat HD App.
Gateway’s efficiency varies depending upon the selected App platform (i.e., Tobii Dynavox, Proloquo2Go or TouchChat), user vocabulary and grid size. The following chart provides a sampling of key selections per word across different vocabulary arrangements.
Gateway’s strength comes from its research-based core vocabulary and its efficient organization, which minimizes the number of key selections needed to create novel messages. For individuals included in any mainstream environment, the ability to quickly generate messages is essential. For those with motor impairments, efficient communication requires that vocabulary be accessed with a few keys as possible. Gateway addresses these needs. Gateway has a proven track record of success with many early users having graduated from college and are gainfully employed.
The cognitive demands of learning Gateway are minimized by utilizing the Fitzgerald Key format as the vocabulary organization format. Words are color-coded and categorized according to people, verbs, little words, descriptive words, objects and places. Since young children can easily categorize common objects according to category exemplars (e.g., shoe => Clothes), understanding the organization of the Gateway vocabulary is developmentally intuitive. For children and adults with autism, communication apps need transparent symbols (e.g., BoardMaker, SymbolStix) and logically organized vocabulary to reduce the cognitive demands os using the system. Gateway effectively addresses these needs. Like similar AAC apps such as Speak for Yourself, Crescendo, and Words for Life, Gateway’s consistent placement of vocabulary aides children with autism who benefit from a motor-planning approach to learning language.
Becoming a proficient user of Gateway does not require learning of complex sequences or identifying arbitrary or abstract symbols. It does require the user to become familiar with the contents and the location of stored vocabulary. Within a relatively short period of time, a user will be able to communicate at a level commensurate with his or her cognitive-language abilities.
Each Vocabulary within the Gateway augmentative communication app targets a different age-range and set of user abilities. It addresses the communication, educational and recreational needs of its defined user population. In a fast-paced world, being able to say what you want to say, when you want to say it, and to do so with a minimum amount of effort is the hallmark of efficient communication and it can be achieved using Gateway.