AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Color Talking Word Wall Template with Apple OS X

by Samuel Sennott

Good news! TextEdit does allow you to color the cells in a Table.

color word wall shot

I provided directions in a section of the updated guide to using the Talking Word Walls. Here is the text from the mixed(visual and text) directions:

Part Two: Working with the Colored Template

1. The colored TextEdit template is a bit different from the standard template because you must use a Table to be able to color the background of each word.
2. Check out the file WW Color Doltch 15 Example. You can see what a finished product looks like. Notice how we now have a Table and that each work has a cell inside the table. The unfortunate thing is that you cannot easily add cells. So our template allows for five words per letter. If you plan on having more, please make the adjustments ahead of time!

3. To create your own, use the template: Word Wall Color Blank Template. Add your words. Note that the template is set up for 22 Point Comic Sans MS Font. Adjust according to your needs and monitor.

4. To change the color in each cell go to: Format: Text: Table.

5. Go to the Cell Background and Select Color Fill. Choose the color bar right next to it and select the color you would like.

Download the Updated Guide: Word Wall Updated Guide Parts 1,2

The Color Template and Example: @ the OTOT site.

To make this better in the future, it would be terrific to find a way to add cells or rows into a Table in TextEdit. Also, future directions are to create guides for creating walls like this into SD Pro powered AAC systems, as well as for use in ICS 3/4, on Series 4 and 5 Devices from Dynavox, PRC Devices, and more importantly, easy use in a Windows Environment.


January 9, 2008 - Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized, writing


  1. If you use Pages from iWork ’08 you can both create the table and colour the cell backgrounds, as well as adding and removing rows and columns, splitting and merging cells and all the other fancy stuff. You could also set images as the cell backgrounds if you want an image with text over the top to reinforce.

    I can’t remember how much of this was also in Pages from ’06, I don’t use tables much myself.

    Ricky Buchanan
    ATMac – – Assistive Technology for Mac OS X Users

    Comment by ATMac | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  2. Ricky

    Right on, but the problem is that there is not the same text to speech functionality with pages. Same with MS Word. That is the rationale behind TextEdit.

    It is unclear to me why the tts functionality cuts out with programs of this type. It seems like from the OS level that text could be treated the same. I wonder what makes apps like TextEdit treat the data differently. Hmmm….

    Comment by Samuel | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  3. I think that I have it figured out now … TextEdit has some table functionality but not all. Do you use any speech chat program so I could explain? It’s hard to type much … happy to type it up if necessary though. Look for “rickybuchanan” on iChat or Skype.

    ATMac – – Assistive Technology for Mac OS X Users

    Comment by ATMac | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  4. Terrific. Thanks. My iChat is scsennott, but I might not get on till later today or tomorrow. I will try you a couple times. : )

    Comment by alltogether | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. Seems like we are fated not to be on iChat at the same time so I’ll try to explain. The basic idea is that TextEdit can add rows to tables but only at the end of a table, so use a single table for each row of words – three tables for your example setup.

    To create it, start a new TextEdit document in rich text format. Put a few newlines in the document just to make it simpler then move the insertion point to the top of the document. From the “Format” menu select “Text” and then “Table…” and it will *insert* a table. This is the least intuitive thing I have seen an OS X program do for a long time!! It should also show you a table formatting palette that lets you add rows or columns – but it always adds rows at the end of the current table (and columns at the right edge).

    Click outside the table in your document and position the cursor on the next line and repeat the above to insert another table, then rinse and repeat for table number 3. It’s easier to see what you’re doing if you leave a blank line between each table – you can set the blank line to a really small font size if you’re stuck for space.

    The table palette will stay there even if you click outside a table, but if you loose it and want to bring it up again just right-click anywhere within any existing table and select “Table…” which should be the top item in the menu.

    You can now change the number of words for each letter on the fly by inserting a row into the correct table! Woo!

    Weird thing I discovered: TextEdit totally fails and cutting and pasting groups of table cells.

    If I have a spare moment I’ll try to replicate your current wall with the 3-table format so people can see what I mean, but hopefully the instructions will suffice for now!

    Comment by ATMac | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  6. Ricky,

    That is brilliant. Nice work. Having them be separate is such a terrific solution. I can do edit, but thanks for the offer. I am planning a bit of a work weekend, so it will go on the list. Your blog is terrific by the way. Thanks for posting so much. Did you watch the Steve Jobs Keynote yet? I haven’t, but I read the updates live while it was happening. Anyway, good stuff for us mac users.


    Comment by alltogether | January 15, 2008 | Reply

  7. I haven’t watched the keynote and I’m not going to – it’s expensive in bandwidth to download/watch that much, and I don’t watch video very well anyway (issues with attention, understanding, memory, etc.) so I think that I do just as well reading the articles in MacWorld and similar written afterwards. I’ll let their staff do the analysing!!

    I’m just in the middle of writing an article on my perspective on the AT implications of the announcements, though! Stay tuned!

    Oh, and thanks for the feedback on my “Ricky’s Environment” post. It took me a year to write the damm thing!!!! Literally!

    Comment by ATMac | January 17, 2008 | Reply

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