Managing Symbolic Vocabularies – A wordlist converter script

As a service we spend a lot of time with people who use ‘structured symbolic vocabularies‘. These are organised, or not so organised, sets of words which are represented with symbols.

There are a number of ways of managing the words that are in these vocabularies – I would argue that ‘traditionally’ AAC software manages ‘cells’ and not vocabulary. That said, some software is moving towards better ways of managing vocabularies of words, by using lists. Within ‘The Grid 2’ software this is achieved through ‘Wordlists’.

Both to help a bit of research and to meet the very specific needs of one of my clients (other future posts!) I, along with Will Wade, developed a script that will convert pages of cells into wordlists.

Using this script means that if you have a vocabulary with vocab in cells and want to use wordlists instead, you can do this in a few simple steps. The other option would be to retype the whole vocabulary in.

I’ve been prompted to finally write this post to describe how to use these scripts having found another few people for whom this would be useful. Hopefully putting it here will encourage others to use it and move us towards ‘properly’ organised, consistently implemented symbolic vocabularies.

The script/process might seem a bit complicated, but hopefully the instructions below will walk you through using it. This should be possible for anyone fairly computer literate. If you want to do something a bit more complicated with the script though, you’ll might need to find a friendly geek. If you get into it you can do things like only convert cells with a certain style to wordlists, or ignore some specific words.

The script is placed in the public domain with no liabilities or warranties – however do get in touch if you use it or are interested in this topic. Enjoy!


  1. Download Python – this is the ‘scripting language in which this script is written. You’ll need python version 2.7 (from the python download site) and install it.
  2. Download the scripts – go to the scripts’ page and choose the ‘zip download’.
  3. Unzip the files to somewhere on your computer. Open this folder, go into the ‘Converters’ folder and copy the path (the text in the top of the file browser window, that will look something like c:\documents and settings\blah\blah\blah)
  4. OK, now we need to prepare to run the script. To do this, open a command window by choosing ‘Start’ then ‘Run’, type in cmd and press enter.
  5. In the command window type cd , now right click in the window and choose ‘paste’ to paste the path to the scripts and press enter to change to this directory. The text should look like: cd c:\documents and settings\blah\blah
  6. Next, go and find the Grid2 user folder that you want to ‘wordlistise’. It is a good idea to make a backup copy of this (either in The Grid, or in your file browser). User files are generally in the “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Sensory Software\The Grid 2\Users\” directory. Navigate into YourUser folder. Copy the path.
  7. OK! Time to run! Go back to the command window. Type: –userdir”PASTE THE PATH TO YOUR USER FOLDER HERE” -w

Press enter and the job is done (hopefully!). Now you just need to go to the pages you want to convert and swap the cells for WordList auto content cells – as described on the Sensory Software help pages. You will probably be setting the same layout on many pages (hopefully), so in this case you can simply copy and paste the cells between all the pages you want to.


  • This script is offered with no liabilities or promises. It might not work.
  • This isn’t the best, friendliest way, of doing this – It could be made easier with a bit of work.
  • The explanation above also only demonstrates the basic use of the script – it can do more, namely you can choose pages, words, styles to ignore, compile things into one single word list, or compile it into a spreadsheet instead… These features are explained in the text of the script.