Posts Tagged ‘PODD book stand’

I have something to say…… about PODD


Have you ever had a patient who you knew had something to say but you struggled to find a means of communication?

I spent almost a year trying literally EVERY possible AAC device and app and every type of access option in a quest to find a “voice” for a child who I knew had so much to say. She made it very clear that she wanted to use her hands for direct access despite having minimal use of them. She hated head pointing and eye gaze devices and any type of scanning. I would seriously lay in bed at night and ponder what else we could try. I spent hours scouring the internet looking for PODD resources and watched just about every video I could find. Thank goodness a PODD training finally came close enough and was priced affordably enough that our facility sent two SLPs to get trained. Ideally I would have gone to that PODD training but it didn’t make sense for me to take a spot being so close to retirement. But having two of our SLPs trained gave me access to a PODD book to trial with her and then was able to order a premade one for her. Ideally you would custom make and print a book but the facility where I work had not figured out the logistics of printing on special water and rip resistant paper and spiral binding. So I have customized the premade PODD book for her by using clear packing tape to add symbols. Her older sister has even hand drawn a few symbols and the family has written lists on the back of pages. It may not be perfect but it’s working for her. She is my PODD rock star. Every week I end my session by telling her to “PODD on” (rock on with PODD).


I’m sharing links to things that were helpful during this PODD adventure and a few lessons learned….

What does PODD stand for? Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display
How to get started? Ideally go to a PODD training….. but the reality is they may not be offered anywhere near you and they tend to be very expensive. This was my reality so I learned as much as I could online through blog posts, workshop handouts, videos, Facebook groups, etc….

One of the biggest mind shifts for me was to let go of the need to plan contrived communication opportunities in therapy sessions and instead model initiating saying “I have something to say” through facial expression, raising my hand and vocalizing and then using PODD to share my own thoughts or ideas. I had to get comfortable with doing lots of modeling without any pressure on the child to do anything. And comfortable with writing measurable goals in a whole different way.

Examples of some of the goals that I have written for her during this process:

“__________ will show increasing interest and attention to someone using pages from the PODD aided communication system to talk to her in natural contexts throughout the day. This will be measured by an increase in: looking towards the communication symbols or the communication partner, calming during this process, looking away to the side but with a stillness as if listening, or responding the partner’s message. Will increase from ______ to at least _______ times documented during the auth period.”

“Within natural contexts throughout the day, _________ will initiate use of PODD AAC by raising her hand and/or vocalizing to indicate “I have something to say”. Will increase from _______ to at least ________ times documented during the auth period.”

“After signaling “I have something to say”, __________will express an increasing range of communicative functions such as requests, comments, and directing actions using direct selection and/or partner assisted scanning with pages from the PODD communication book and yes/no responses. Will increase from_______ to at least ________ times documented during the auth period.”
Reading these 1 page PODD tip sheets helped break the concept into manageable chunks:


This weekend I found these handouts and videos on Linda Burkhart’s website about PODD:

“Aided Language Stimulation and a Robust Language System: Autism a Case Example” – Presented by Linda J. Burkhart and Aura Baker at Closing the Gap Conference, October, 2016

Click to access Jax_story_CTGap_presentation_10_16_post.pdf

“Aided Language Stimulation: Giving Kids the Gift of Language”
– presented by Linda Burkhart and Karen Owens (We Speak PODD) at AITA January 2017

Click to access Gift-of-Language_ATIA_Jan_17.pdf

Older handouts with great info:

More handouts:


Options for purchasing premade PODD books (you have to sign a confirmation that you own both the Boardmaker and PODD software). A big shout out to Rachael Langley & Kelly Fonner for helping me find the first two options! The third one was seen in a Facebook group:

* (several sizes and styles to choose from. This is where we ordered this patient’s book from. The spiral binding is not very large so we had to use a wooden dowel rod to hang it on the PVC stand.)


* (you have to send them PDF to print)


How to convert PODD to PDF in Boardmaker 6

So I’ve been frustrated that I’m always fumbling through this patient’s PODD book in sessions. I wish there was a “word finder” for PODD (one of the downsides of a no tech system). I’m pretty “at home” with most AAC devices and apps since I have had lots of time to look through them and use them.  I wanted to have this same level of ease in using PODD so I decided that I needed a copy of the same style of PODD book that she is using.

Unfortunately I can’t use the Tobii Dynavox PODD pageset in the Compass app to model since it doesn’t look anything like my patient’s PODD book. Since I am only 14 weeks away from retirement it did not make sense to spend about $80 to order a premade PODD book for me.  I had seen comments online of folks saving a PODD book as a PDF so that’s what I decided to do. I saved the PDF in iBooks on my iPad. Now I have a way to look through it to get a feel for what vocabulary is in it and the pragmatic branching.

Be forewarned ….. it’s a VERY tedious & time consuming process to save a PODD book into one PDF if you are using Boardmaker 6 on a CD. It took me about 3 hours for a 123 pages of PODD. It’s not hard but time consuming.

  • Open the first page of your PODD book in Boardmaker.
  • Go to File – Print Set Up – Print Set Up – selected “Microsoft Print to PDF” – OK – Remember Board Settings for New Boards – OK
  • Go to File – Print (make sure it says “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer) – OK

You have to repeat the process for every single page that you want to include in the PDF of your PODD book. (I don’t have access to Boardmaker Online so I don’t know what the steps are there).

After you have all your pages saved as PDFs, then go to the Small PDF website ( This website lets you upload an unlimited number of PDFs. I uploaded all 123 of the PDF documents that I wanted included in this PODD book. After they are all uploaded then you hit “merge”. I was surprised how quickly this website handled merging 123 separate PDFs into one 123 page PDF document. I then uploaded the merged PDF from my computer into the media storage on my blog (a secured area that only I have access to). From there I was able to e-mail the link to the iPad that I use for AAC and opened the PDF in iBooks to save it on the device.

Find a PODD Training:
More info:
We Speak PODD:
Info about the types of PODD books:


Comparisons of PODD one page opening types of books: PODD-Comparison-for-one-page-opening-communication-books

Language: Pragmatic Functions and semantic meaning comparisons of PODD one page opening types of books: PODD-Language-Comparison-for-one-page-opening-communication-books

More PODD tips:
Mary-Louise Bertram demonstrates how to make a portable stand for a PODD book, that could also work well for other kinds of communication books.

How We Speak PODD makes their carrying rods:

Here are some examples of PODD book stands made out of PVC. The amazing PT tech at our facility made some of the first style ones for us:  PODD PVC stand examples
PODD Facebook groups:
* PODD and Alternative Access:
* PODD Trained Discussion Group:
* PODD Europe:
* PODD for Angelman Sydrome and other CCN (ALL are welcome):

More Facebook groups that are not specific to PODD but folks frequently post about it there:

* AAC for the SLP:

* AAC Through Motivate, Model, Move Out Of The Way:

* Angelman, Literacy, and Education (including Alphabet Therapy):

Gayle Porter has reportedly been working on an “alternative access” version of PODD for quite awhile but as of the time of this post it is still not available here in the USA. So I made these very simple eye gaze boards inspired by PODD to use with a couple of other older patients.


I may add more PODD resources to this post in the future. Just so it’s clear…. I’m definitely not an expert on PODD. I’m just a speechie who was willing to jump out of my comfort zone to find a means of communication for this patient and thought it would be helpful to share resources that took countless hours to find.  If you have questions about this form of AAC I suggest going to one of the Facebook groups listed above. It’s where all the PODD gurus are 😉

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 28 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.