About the Unity Language

What is Unity®?

Unity is a unique language system used to represent language in an AAC device. It uses a small set of easy-to-recognize pictures combined in short sequences to produce words, phrases, and sentences.

A beginning communicator might start with a Unity vocabulary where one picture represents one word.

A more advanced communicator might use a Unity vocabulary that uses short sequences of pictures to represent words or phrases.

Unity focuses on frequently used words. Research has shown that approximately 400 frequently used words make up more than 75% of our speech, regardless of age, gender, or background.

Eighty percent of the words we use come from a small set of 400 to 500 CORE words. CORE words are used across many situations by people of all ages. The rest of the words we use are called FRINGE words, and consist mostly of infrequently used nouns that are activity specific.

“I want that.” All the words in this sentence are CORE words.

“I want that cookie.” Cookie is a FRINGE word. All the other words are CORE words.

The Unity language system contains many CORE and FRINGE vocabulary words. The most frequently used CORE words are always available on the first screen. The location for a CORE word is always in the same place.

Who Uses Unity?

Unity is used by people of all ages and abilities and can provide language to all levels of communicators including individuals who:

  • are just learning to communicate;
  • continue to learn language for communication;
  • are fully competent communicators; .
  • have no reading or spelling skills;
  • can read and write.

Meet Some Successful Unity Users

Why Choose Unity?

By using short sequences, Unity provides easy access to CORE words.

Unity lets you speak your own thoughts, in your own words instead of depending on others to decide what words they think you need.

The locations of the pictures (icons) remain fixed in Unity, permitting motor patterns to develop for frequently used words and phrases. When motor memory takes over, you begin to think about what you want to communicate with the words instead of thinking about the locations of the individual words.

Unity is the only AAC language system that takes advantage of motor learning to decrease mental effort and increase speed of communication.

How Does Unity Work?

In addition to having a set of core icons and core words, Unity has a language structure based on a few simple patterns. Once you learn the pattern for a certain type of word, you can explore and find other words that use the same pattern. Words in these patterns are color-coded for additional help.

We’ll show you a few of these patterns and then demonstrate how you can use the patterns to find words. After you know how to find single words, you can put two words together to make phrases. This sequence is how natural language develops. People learn to say single words first, and then combine words to make phrases and sentences.

Finding verbs or action words is part of the first Unity pattern. In Unity, the verb endings are color-coded green. If you select the APPLE icon, and then the green key with Mr. Action Man, you can say “eat.”

Nouns are also in Unity pattern one. Notice that The noun “food” is color-coded orange.

Your first choice of the APPLE icon changed the activity row at the top to all kinds of foods. Each icon in Unity is related to a group or “family” of words that belong to a category. For example the APPLE is in the Foods category ; the TRUCK is in the Vehicles category . By learning the patterns and categories in Unity, you can find more words without memorizing a lot of individual sequences.

Learn more about Unity

There are many resources available to help you learn more about Unity.