CVES™ – Core Vocabulary Exchange System™ – Boardmaker® Intermediate Medium (105)


Want a new, low-tech AAC solution? The Core Vocabulary Exchange System™ (CVES™) has everything you need to teach both picture exchange and core vocabulary!

CVES™ is a low-tech, durable, and two-way AAC communication platform that incorporates picture exchange and core vocabulary. It was created to help students develop functional communication skills beyond simple requests or labeling such as "I want" or "I see." Children who have developed splinter communication skills whether they are using low- or high-tech communication devices may be lacking in functional communication skills as well as understanding the reciprocity of language where communication is happening between a communication partner and a receiver.

This program is an effective way to exchange communication as it combines core vocabulary and picture exchange into one robust system that is both an interactive communication board as well as a language teaching tool. It may be used as a stand-alone AAC system dedicated to a child, or it may be used as a language teaching tool for children who have some verbal speech. It can also be used in a group setting to teach language concepts and expressive language as well as grammar and syntax. In addition, it is a multi-sensory interactive tool that can help transition a child to verbal speech with extensive use or as a bridge to a high-tech communication device.

CVES™ has seven (7) main purposes:

  1. The most important purpose is to create a two-way exchange of information between a communication partner and individual.
  2. CVES™ encourages Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation (SNUG) to allow students to say what they want when they want both in symbols and oral communication. That means using single words, two-word combinations, three-word combinations, etc, and working across grammar structures and syntax structures. Watch & Learn More >

    • SNUG was originally introduced by Dr. Katya Hill (Achieving Success in AAC: Assessment and Intervention).
  3. Increase the frequency and use of functions of communication. We use language for many purposes aside from a request or comment. We use language to direct others, to ask for help or assistance, to indicate when we're done with something (cessation), to protest or reject something when we don't want it, to tease, to comment and to request. CVES™ can start a child working on multiple functions of language at the same time.
  4. Aided Language Input is another main purpose of CVES™ as we want to be talking to a child using the icons in the system which will help the student pair speech with the meaning of the icon. If we're giving the student receptive input, then he or she is more likely to use the system expressively with us.
  5. Behavioral Regulation is another key aspect because we want to target different functions of language to assist with behavioral regulation. The top 4 functions are requesting, indicating cessation, requesting for assistance, and protesting or rejecting.
  6. Promote motor automaticity! Just as in a high-tech device, there should be a consistent motor plan of icons in a child's system. In CVES™, the icons are removable and returnable to the same location which helps the motor plan as well as the convergence of language to help create motor automaticity for each word. The individual manipulation of icons also allows for a therapist or individual to model language receptively and expressively by removing icons from a consistent location and returning icons to that location after use. This patented standardization of placement and use of color coding dramatically reduces set up time and promotes concise presentation of the materials benefiting both the clinician and the student. 
  7. As previously mentioned, CVES™ facilitates receptive & expressive joint attention. It will also help improve eye gaze referencing between icons and the communication partner or between a preferred object, an icon, and the communication partner.

In addition, the versatility of CVES™ allows the clinician to select the correct teaching tool based on the specific needs of the child: Aided Language Stimulation, ABA Style, Pivotal Response Training, Backward Chaining, or others. CVES™ is also an ideal "backup" communication device if a high-tech system is unavailable. 

The symbols used in the CVES™ program can be purchased as either Boardmaker® icons or Pixon™ icons. The design of either symbol set has the look and feel (visual as well as symbol sets being used) of high tech electronic devices allowing for a smooth transition to a high tech system when it is determined appropriate. 

Ages: 3 and up. This would also be applicable for nonverbal adults due to TBI, Dementia, Stroke, etc. Made in the USA.

The layout of the system is organized mostly based on the Fitzgerald Key of color coding: 

  • Yellow = People and Pronouns
  • Red = Food and Drink
  • Blue = Feelings (real photos)
  • Light Blue = Adjectives/Descriptors and Art
  • Dark Green = Sensory
  • Green = Verbs
  • Teal = Time
  • Pink = Social
  • White = Question and Grammar Word
  • Orange = Nouns and Descriptors
  • Purple = Prepositions

Additional Photos

What's Included

*Some assembly required.

Start by choosing a CVES™ Foldout. Need help deciding? Watch this short video showing the different options available >

  • Boardmaker® Intermediate Medium (105 icons)
  • Boardmaker® Advanced Small (189 icons)
  • Pixon™ Intermediate Medium (105 icons)
  • Pixon™ Advanced Small (189 icons)

Click Here To Select Your Version

Along with the CVES™ Foldout, you will receive:

  • First & Then Card
  • Visual Schedule with Icons (based on your Foldout preference of either Boardmaker® or Pixon™)
  • Communication 3-Ring Binder (with carrying handle and hex key to lock the binder)
  • Binder Stand
  • Foldout – your choice of 1 of the 4 options listed above
    • All foldouts contain basic core vocabulary
  • Binder Inserts with Icons (based on your Foldout preference of either Boardmaker® or Pixon™)
    • Food (Drink)
    • Social (Social Phrases)
    • Sensory
    • Health
    • Art
    • Play
    • People
    • Miscellaneous
  • Core Communication Card
  • Masking Icons (2 sets)
  • Fringe Vocabulary Stickers for customization
  • Instructional Manual
  • Free! Implementation Training Videos and Reproducible Materials
  • Hook & Loop Fastening - plus assembly instructions

Target Audience

For ages 3 and up. This would also be applicable for nonverbal adults due to TBI, Dementia, Stroke, etc.


Megan Brazas

Megan Brazas, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, credentialed early intervention provider, and holds a State of Illinois teaching license. She has extensive experience in working with children with complex communication needs, including autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, rare medical conditions, and complex orthopedic impairments. Additionally, Megan has experience evaluating and treating a variety of speech and language conditions including apraxia of speech and she is PROMPT Trained.

Megan speaks locally and nationally on topics such as core vocabulary, low-tech communication systems, functional communication, supporting communication in the special education setting, curriculum adaptations, behavior management for autism spectrum disorder, and typical language development. Megan’s contributions include presentations at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), Infintec, Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization, and local school districts. Megan is the creator of the Core Vocabulary Exchange System™ (CVES™), a low-tech core vocabulary based communication system which aligns with typical language development, published by Northern Speech Services.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial — Megan Brazas is presenter of CE seminars sponsored by Northern Speech Services; receives honorarium.

Financial — Megan Brazas is author and creator of the Core Vocabulary Exchange System (CVES™) published by Northern Speech Services; receives royalties.

Nonfinancial — Megan Brazas has no relevant nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

Customer Reviews

Order Policies


US Domestic - Orders are shipped through USPS or UPS. Rates for both services are based on current published rates. Please use our shipping estimator (available in the shopping cart)to determine your shipping costs, based on your preferences.

International - Orders are shipped through USPS or UPS. Duties and taxes are NOT included in the shipping cost. Some countries impose additional duties and taxes when packages cross their borders. Please check your local laws, as any additional charges(duties/taxes), may be due upon delivery of your package. NSS is not responsible for any additional charges.

Tracking information will be emailed to you upon order shipping.


If an item is not in stock when your order is received, you will be notified via email with the estimated ship date for your order. Generally, backorders are shipped within 1-2 weeks. If you order with a Purchase Order, your invoice will not be sent until the order is completely filled.


If you have not received your order, you may cancel it by calling 888-337-3866, faxing 888-696-9655, or e-mailing In the event that your order has already been shipped, you are responsible for returning the items in accordance with our RETURN policy (a copy is provided with your order).


We offer the option of phoning, faxing or mailing in your information after you place your order for products. Simply use the Downloadable Order Form, which you can print and fax or mail to our office.


Order must be returned within 30 days after receiving the order.

If you received a wrong/defective/damaged/duplicate order, please email Include your Order Number, Product Name, and the problem with your order. Do not return the product until you have received an authorization from our Office.

If a product is returned in unused and in good condition, a full refund will be processed, minus shipping and handling charges.


We accept checks (US dollars only), money orders, credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover), EFT (electronic funds transfer) and purchase orders.


When you submit your credit card and other sensitive information to, rest assured that the transaction is secure. Our servers use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), one of the most robust encryption platforms available to encrypt your private information from the moment you enter it until your transaction is processed. Your personal information will not be saved on a public server, thus safeguarding your personal information and guaranteeing privacy.

If you still feel unsure about sending your information via internet, please feel free to call us (888-337-3866) and we can process your order over the phone.