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).
Here’s a screenshot of my desperate plea for help in the AAC for the SLP group on 10/20/16:
I periodically update this blog post. It is a “pay it forward” labor of love. I had an incredibly hard time finding info about PODD to get started with that patient back in 2016. So I was determined to make it easier for anyone trying to do that. 😊
The latest update for this post was on 9/26/22 when I went through and checked all of the links and info and updated as needed.
On 1/8/23 I updated pricing info for the digital PODD apps.
On 2/24/23 I updated to reflect that the PODD direct access template is sold out again on the Boardmaker website.
On 3/12/23 I updated this post to add info about Feature Matching Chart for Pragmatic Vocabulary Organization AAC Apps.
New resource: Feature Matching Chart for Pragmatic Vocabulary Organization AAC Apps. This is a VERY deep dive beyond just vocabulary organization… it’s also an in depth look at the flexibility or limitations of the app platforms, customization and alternative access options plus includes detailed info about three different Bluetooth switch interfaces (Blue2, iSwitch & Cosmo).
Available on TPT: https://bit.ly/PragmaticOrgVocabAAC-FeatureMatching-TPT. This resource includes free access to over 3 hours of unlisted YouTube videos where I highlight some of the most unique features in each option and discuss the flexibility in customization, options for alternative access, etc…
More info on my blog post: http://bit.ly/3ycG1EL
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
Update 9/25/22: This website has great info about the history of PODD: https://www.cpec.org.au/podd
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.”
Writing IEP Goals and Objectives for Receptive and Expressive Communication for Children with Complex Communication Needs, By Linda Burkhart & Gayle Porter from the PODD Communication Books Advanced workshop Manual ©.2019, https://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/IEP-goals-from-Advanced-2019.pdf
Update 3/10/21: A nice article about Partner Assisted Scanning (shared by Laura Taylor): https://speechpathologyaustralia.cld.bz/JCPSLP-November-2017/28
Update 7/27/20: The Angelman Syndrome Foundation has lots of nice examples of goals in the AAC section on their website (not specific to PODD but relevant): https://www.angelman.org/resources-education/iep-bank/
Reading these 1 page PODD tip sheets helped break the concept into manageable chunks: http://interactivespeech.com.au/podd-communication-focus-handouts.php
Update 7/24/20: Those handouts are all no longer available. The website indicates they are being updated. Fortunately I had copies saved in the iBooks app on my iPad. I merged them into one PDF and uploaded that to my blog.
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
Partner-Assisted Communication Strategies for Children Who Face Multiple Challenges Handout by Linda J. Burkhart and Gayle Porter ((Pre-conference Instructional course – ISAAC 2006): https://bit.ly/3f4DlNu
Partner-Assisted Communication Strategies for Children Who Face Multiple Challenges: PODD Communication Books – Gayle Porter Handout by Linda J. Burkhart and Gayle Porter (Pre-conference Instructional course – ISAAC 2006): https://bit.ly/2BvPI7y
Older handouts with great info:
Two parents discussing PODD books. Tracey Campbell is the parent describing how she first learned about PODD.
See her TrAACey Talks YouTube channel for several more great videos: https://youtube.com/channel/UCUR-pRpRI7GH4cn645IbM8w
Intro to a single opening PODD book: https://youtu.be/D5QTl4cfEWs
Jodi Melendez: Making Modeling Fun at Home – AAC in the Cloud 2018 (webinar by a parent who uses PODD with her daughter): https://youtu.be/J6YfJuz1ktA
Getting Started with PODD with Mary Louise Bertram webinar: https://youtu.be/s_mc6AWQOM0 (it’s part of a great series of trainings from the Angelman Syndrome Foundation: https://www.angelman.org/resources-education/communication/) . She also has a great video where she models on PODD and uses some signs while reading a book: https://youtu.be/4HuJLuPk7Cg
Parents as Partners Working Together to Support PODD Users handouts (March 2017): http://ncaca.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/NCACA-2017-PODD-Karen-Lynn-handout.pdf
Recorded presentations from the FAST educational summit 2015 (Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics):
Gayle Porter (this presentation was not specifically about PODD… but a little bit about PODD starts at 43:13): https://youtu.be/LoD32hBtyaU
Linda Burkhart (not solely about PODD but a lot about it): https://youtu.be/QZJRK0MB2ug
Handouts from their presentation: https://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/handout-Which-Way-to-Autonomous-Communication-AS-Porter-Burkhart.pdf
Talking with Tech podcast with guest Kelly Fonner who is a certified PODD trainer on 2/19/19 (her part starts at 20:33, Why would someone consider using PODD? starts at 29:20, Pitfalls to avoid starts at 40:33) : https://talkingwithtech.podbean.com/e/kelly-fonner-all-about-podd-pragmatic-organization-dynamic-display/
Updated PODD Overview: https://novitatech.com.au/equipment/podd-communication-books/
Lots of PODD info has been added to the PODD USA website…. I wish all of this had been there back when I was on my quest to learn about PODD: http://www.poddusa.com/links.html . Updated 9/25/22: The website is now: http://www.kellyfonner.com/poddusa/links.html
Update 9/25/22: The PODD Template CDs have been Sold Out on the Tobii Dynavox website for quite awhile: https://goboardmaker.com/products/podd. I was unable to find any info about whether or not those will be restocked. A couple of the USA PODD trainers are recommending folks purchase them from the CPEC website in Australia. If you do that you may need to edit some content from Australian English to USA English and be sure to order the US Letter Paper Size: https://cpec-store.myshopify.com/collections/podd-books/products/pragmatic-organisation-dynamic-display-podd-communication-book-direct-access-templates-a4-a5-paper-size?variant=17769125955
Update 1/8/23: The PODD CD was available again on the Tobii Dynavox website
Update 2/24/23: And it’s sold out again.
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:
* Alt+Shift: https://www.altshift.education/resources/order-podd-books-through-altshift, http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1970606/PODD-Book-Order-Form-3 (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. Updated 9/26/22: They also offer alternative access PODD books. See their website for requirements.
* https://terraslatepaper.com/products/podd-communication-book (you have to send them PDF to print) – Updated 9/25/22 This company no longer does this
* Update 9/26/22: AAC Book Builders in Australia: http://aacbookbuilders.com.au/productpage/ & their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/aacbookbuilders/. I don’t know prices and whether or not they ship internationally but thought it was cool that they also rent PODD books for trials and have tiny doll-sized PODD books
How to convert PODD to PDF in Boardmaker 6 (tap this title to open PDF)
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 (https://smallpdf.com/merge-pdf). 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.
**** Note: Boardmaker 7 has been released but there are significant issues with its abilities to import PODD books. Tobii Dynavox released info on what to do in this document (last updated 12/14/20): http://tdvox.web-downloads.s3.amazonaws.com/Boardmaker/v7/Using%20PODD%20in%20Boardmaker%207%20FAQ.pdf
Additional info: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/landing-pages/podd-in-boardmaker-7/
7/12/21: See this info for additional help: https://goboardmaker.com/pages/podd-in-boardmaker-7
But I’m hearing that the solutions offered in the Quick Guides may not resolve the issues especially if you are trying to do 2-sided printing. Contact your local Boardmaker support team.
Find a PODD Training:
PODD Training Calendar: http://www.kellyfonner.com/poddusa/index.html
More info: http://lindaburkhart.com/index.php/podd-information/
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
Update 1/19/23: Nice short video with carrying strap ideas for two different styles of PODD books: https://youtu.be/PhM4LfPjBIo
Update 7/28/20: More stand options
Therese Willkomm (a “MacGyver of AT”) making a stand out of corrugated plastic: https://youtu.be/1EeX7bIKiEU
More details (the dimensions are for an iPad stand but could easily be adapted for a PODD book): https://www.atprogramnews.com/2012/08/make-an-ipad-stand-in-under-3-minutes.html . Also found a PDF on this website: https://iod.unh.edu/node/73. (Updated 9/25/22: see this instead: https://iod.unh.edu/sites/default/files/media/2021-09/making-an-eileen.pdf)
I’ve also seen this stand recommended: BestBookStand Actto BST-09:
And this one: Fellowes Booklift Copyholder, Platinum (21100)
U.S. Art Supply Hampton Large Wooden Table Easel
PODD in the Classroom: Portable, Wearable, & Comfortable by Rachael Langley (on PrAACtical AAC): https://praacticalaac.org/praactical/how-i-do-it-by-rachael-langley-podd-in-the-classroom-portable-wearable-comfortable/
PODD Facebook groups:
* PODD and Alternative Access: https://www.facebook.com/groups/245472458977470
* PODD Trained Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/146028998941754
* PODD Europe: https://www.facebook.com/groups/304605199684150
* PODD & Angelman Sydrome: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AngelmanPODD/
* PODD with Alternative Access and Alternative Presentation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/245472458977470/
* PODD Interest Group Australia: https://www.facebook.com/groups/poddaus/
More Facebook groups that are not specific to PODD but folks frequently post about it there:
* AAC for the SLP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1539830846285663/
* AAC Through Motivate, Model, Move Out Of The Way: https://www.facebook.com/groups/421704261346486/
* Angelman, Literacy, and Education (including Alphabet Therapy): https://www.facebook.com/groups/265187670266772/
See Facebook groups for each digital PODD app below.
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 with pragmatic branching to use with a couple of other older patients. (Update: As of 1/13/21 the Alternative Access version of PODD is still not available in the USA and no info could be found regarding when it will be available. Update: As of 1/8/23 the Alternative Access version is still not commercially available in the USA. You could order it from Australia and get A4 paper to print it on but any binders would also need to be that size: https://cpec-store.myshopify.com/collections/podd-books/products/pragmatic-organisation-dynamic-display-podd-communication-book-alternative-access-templates. Or see the ordering info above for Alt+Shift (USA) and AAC Book Builders (Australia) for purchasing premade Alternative Access PODD books.
Facebook post from 10/31/17:
Update 9/25/22: This frequently requested resource in now available on TPT. See this blog post for details: Simple Eye Gaze Communication Flip Book: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/09/25/new-resource-simple-eye-gaze-communication-flip-book/
I recently discovered this unique free AAC app in the App Store. pasco by Ace Centre
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pasco/id1317265884. pasco (Phrase Auditory Scanning COmmunicator). It works on the iPad and iPhone. The auditory scanning options are very similar to those in PODD. There are no symbols. It’s totally auditory. The in app guide is in the “?” area. More info: http://acecentre.org.uk/project/pasco/. Support FAQs: https://acecentre.org.uk/page/pasco-support/
Digital PODD books are available on the iPad in four ways: simPODD, Grid for iPad, Snap Core First and PODD with Compass. This post is based on my personal experiences in trying all four options.
Update 7/22/21: Snap Core First has been re-branded as TD Snap AAC. The process of setting up a new user in the app has been improved. The other features remain the same.
As of September 1st, 2022, PODD with Compass is no longer available for sale (http://downloads.tobiidynavox.com/Other/Legacy%20EOS/Compass%20EOS.pdf). They will continue to make effort to provide technical support for Compass on devices that have not surpassed their useful lifetime.
3/12/23 For comprehensive and up to date info about all of the digital PODD options on the iPad and Windows devices, see this new resource. Like all of my feature matching resources it will be updated if features change in apps:
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I did not have the opportunity to attend a formal PODD training. I’m in Oklahoma and PODD trainings were always too far away and too expensive for the state agency to send us. There was finally one in Texas just a few months before I retired but I gave my spot to another SLP on the team since spending that much for me to attend did not make sense that close to retirement.
So in order to support the patients that I used PODD with I taught myself via all of the resources that I shared on this blog post: videos, webinars, handouts, reading everything included with the PODD CD, participating in several AAC Facebook groups, and being cross-trained by the two SLPs who did go to that PODD training in Texas, etc. Since then I have continued to remain active with AAC.
I’m glad to answer questions or point you in the direction of who may be able to answer them 😊
The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
Want to suggest PODD resources or info to be added to this list? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/. If you are an app developer and would like to have me review a new digital PODD app for the iPad or PODD that was added to an existing app via IAP, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can look at the info before you send a promo code. I want to make sure that one of my iPads is compatible in order to try it out.
I’m retired from providing clinical services but am doing AAC consulting, creating AAC resources, actively posting about AAC and apps and using AAC in volunteer work.
Updated contact info 9/25/22
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
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