What's with the cats? And what's this "phatic"
The cats are cute! Besides, even though other symbol
systems used in assistive technology have icons for these gestures,
we are using the fat cat icons in a somewhat different way. In addition,
we want this app to be easy to teach to all kids, regardless of what
symbol set or assistive technology they use.
More pedantically, this app is based on principles
of phatic communications. "Phatic" denotes "speech
used to express or create an atmosphere of shared feelings, goodwill, or
sociability rather than to impart information" (Random House
Dictionary via dictionary.com).
For example, when I tell you a story face-to-face, and you keep nodding
during the telling -- you are engaged in phatic communications. As
another example, when I talk to you on the phone, and you say "uh
huh" from time to time -- you are engaged in phatic communications.
Phatic communication is what keeps conversations going.
When I tell you a story, your phatic communications tells me, "I'm
listening. I understand what you are saying. I understand the emotive
content of what you are saying. I support your feelings. And please
An important part of phatic communication is that
despite the "simplicity" of the message, the actual gestures,
vocalizations, and words, must have variation -- or the person telling
you a story will know that you are not really listening.
So .. each fat cat reminds you that this is Fat Cat
And, did I say that the cats are cute?