The face of a smiling orange cartoon cat, with a human-like hand outstretched in the foreground, making a snapping motion

Fat Cat Snappy Chat

a product of Point-and-Read, Inc.

What's with the cats? And what's this "phatic" stuff?

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 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 continue."

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 PHATIC Chat.

And, did I say that the cats are cute?

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Copyright 2011 Point-and-Read, Inc.