*Archived – see more recent post* Review & Comparison of Features in Digital PODD iPad apps (simPODD, Grid for iPad and PODD with Compass) …. plus new PODD resources

*** Archived – see the most current post at: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2021/01/09/review-comparison-of-features-in-digital-podd-ipad-apps-in-2021-simpodd-grid-for-ipad-snap-core-first-and-podd-with-compass/ ***


Review & Comparison of Features in Digital PODD iPad apps (simPODD, Grid for iPad and PODD with Compass) …. plus new PODD resources

I just updated my comprehensive blog post about PODD AAC to add several new resources and an in-depth review and comparison of features in all of the digital PODD iPad apps currently available in the USA App Store: simPODD, Grid for iPad and PODD with Compass. Rather than doing it in a separate post I decided to add it to that post to keep everything PODD related in one spot.

Updated info is highlighted throughout that post and I tested all links and updated those. Scroll down towards the bottom of the post until you see the same pic that is on this post to find the app reviews and comparisons of features:

https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/01/10/i-have-something-to-say-about-podd/
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Updated 11/10/20: Tobii Dynavox just released Snap PODD as an ad-on within the Snap Core First app. See this post on Facebook for details: https://www.facebook.com/174264525957894/posts/3622621321122180/. I’ll be updating my big PODD blog post to add it to the comparisons once I test it out.

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Want to suggest PODD resources or info to be added to that post? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page. 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.

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC
Facebook: https://bit.ly/2Si6k7Y
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amoorad1/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amoorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com

I have something to say…… about PODD (updated with additional resources and a review/comparison of all digital PODD apps for the iPad in 2021)

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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).

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I’m sharing links to things that were helpful during this PODD adventure and a few lessons learned….
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What does PODD stand for? Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display
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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.”

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/
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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.

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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

http://lindaburkhart.com/index.php/handout_jax_autism

“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

https://bit.ly/39voWJd

 

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

http://lindaburkhart.com/index.php/handouts/

Older handouts with great info:

https://bit.ly/3hHmdzb

http://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Light_Com_part_1_-5_12_handout.pdf
http://lindaburkhart.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Light_Com_part_2_PODD_50_min_5_12_handout_rev.pdf
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Update 3/12/21:

Two parents discussing PODD books. Tracey Campbell is the parent describing how she first learned about PODD.

https://youtu.be/4p5eH1u1j40

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

Update 7/26/20:

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-training-series/)

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: http://lburkhart.com/handout%20Which%20Way%20to%20Autonomous%20Communication%20AS%20Porter%20Burkhart.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 .

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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:

* 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.)

* http://www.esc4.net/Assets/podd-books-order-formv2.pdf

* https://terraslatepaper.com/products/podd-communication-book (you have to send them PDF to print)

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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 (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/

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Find a PODD Training:

http://www.poddusa.com/index.html

https://sites.google.com/site/testbkeller20/
http://lindaburkhart.com/
More info: http://lindaburkhart.com/index.php/podd-information/
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We Speak PODD:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfvD20l2wn-fS2Ar4bdTXZg
https://www.facebook.com/wespeakpodd/
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Info about the types of PODD books:
https://www.novita.org.au/equipment/podd-communication-books/

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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

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More PODD tips:
http://praacticalaac.org/?s=PODD
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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.

 

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How We Speak PODD makes their carrying rods:

 

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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
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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.
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I’ve also seen this stand recommended: BestBookStand Actto BST-09:

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And this one: Fellowes Booklift Copyholder, Platinum (21100)

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BookStation

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U.S. Art Supply Hampton Large Wooden Table Easel

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Updated 3/12/21:

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/

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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.

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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)

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Update 7/22/20:

 

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/services/research/pasco-support/.

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Update 1/9/21:

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.

Prices, availability & device/iOS compatibility were all checked in the USA App Store and website links were all working at the time this post was updated (7:00pm CST on 1/9/21). Prices may vary outside the USA based on the exchange rate. Screenshots and descriptions are based on features available at the time of this post. AAC apps change frequently as updates are released.

Note: Digital PODD options are intended to supplement not replace a paper PODD

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How SLPs can get access to digital PODD options to try during the eval process:

Grid for iPad: You can try out the full PODD grid sets as part of the free trial of Grid 3 on a computer running Windows 10. I initially got an error message when attempting to open them on my laptop but when I restarted my computer they all worked fine: https://thinksmartbox.com/news/new-podd-grid-sets/. I received this helpful info from Smartbox: https://thinksmartbox.com/answer/unable-access-phonics-free-trial/. I wish they had included the full PODD grids in the free trial in the app so we could actually trial them on the device that would be used for that patient/student. But viewing them on my laptop at least let me see what was in each grid set and in the controls area on each one. And I was able to install different voices to try.

SimPODD: AssistiveWare provides a complimentary license for simPODD for SLPs. This is a one-year license with access to simPODD digital only (can’t print PODD books). E-mail them at: support@assistiveware.com

Snap Core First: The MyTobiiDynavox for Professionals Program provides certified SLPs with free voice output + free access to the premium pagesets (PODD & Gateway) within the free version of the app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first/id1072799231). Process a bit convoluted – see this post for tips:

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simPODD

 

1. simPODD app by AssistiveWare, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/simpodd/id1464489596, iPad only, iOS 12.1 or later. Most recent update: 12/21/20. The app is free & has a 1-month free trial (digital only, cannot print). Then you would need to subscribe ($13.99 per month for digital only, $139.99 per year for digital + printing capabilities). There is currently not an option to purchase it in full up front but they have recently added the option to purchase a multi-year license (3-year: $419.99 & 5-year: $699.99) that will be helpful to those wanting to pursue funding options that won’t or can’t purchase a subscription (ex: insurance, school districts, state run facilities, etc.). Those must be purchased directly from AssistiveWare: https://assistiveware.onfastspring.com. Info for schools needing to manage multiple simPODD subscriptions: https://www.assistiveware.com/simpodd-for-schools.

More info: https://www.assistiveware.com/products/simpodd, overview: https://www.assistiveware.com/support/simpodd/overview, great tips about printing PODD books: https://www.assistiveware.com/blog/tips-to-print-and-make-podd-book

Key features:
* SymbolStix symbols with the option to globally change Skin Tones
* Lots of high quality voices with the ability to adjust the pitch and speech rate
* Easy to access “Controls” page where you can expand the sentence bar and then use “cursor controls” to be able to delete specific items in the sentence bar. The options vary based on the version of PODD being used. This is also where you can “share” and “copy” messages and adjust the volume to whisper, talk or shout.
* Option to share messages via e-mail, iMessaging, share messages to social media (Twitter and Facebook… must have those apps installed and be logged in), copy them to the clipboard to use in other apps, add to the Notes app, or save to Files (only the text is shared not the symbols)
* Ability to edit multiple buttons at a time
* Unfortunately there is no “Search” option like they have in Proloquo2Go. It would be very helpful for those wanting to find specific items to model on PODD.
* The PODD 15 and 15+ page sets all have the option to show symbols + text in the sentence bar plus the ability to adjust the type of font and color of font.

* Unfortunately there is not an option to show symbols + text in the sentence bar in the PODD 60 page sets. Just text but you can adjust the type of font and color of font.
* In-app “Help” area with links to help articles, AssistiveWare’s user groups on Facebook and e-mail for support (available 7 days a week).
* iCloud backup is done automatically and can also be done manually

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Includes 6 PODD book options:
PODD 15 Preschool
PODD 15+ Preschool
PODD 15 School
PODD 15+ School
PODD 60 Expanded Key Word
PODD 60 Complex Syntax

If you have a yearly subscription, it includes the ability to export and print PODD books. Different versions of PODD are available to edit and print than are available digitally. Samples can be viewed within the app:

9 Early Functions
9 Expanded Functions
12 Early Functions
12 Expanded Functions
16 Expanded Functions
20 Expanded Functions
36 Key Words
40 Key Words
48 Expanded Key Words
70 Expanded Key Words
90+ Complex Syntax
100+ Complex Syntax
Group Early Functions VEST
Group Expanded Functions
Group Expanded Functions VEST

AssistiveWare simPODD Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AssistiveWaresimPODD

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Grid for iPad with PODD

2. Grid for iPad app by Smartbox Assistive Technology, iPad only, iOS 11.0 or later. Most recent update: 1/4/21.

Key features:
* PCS / Boardmaker symbols with the option to globally change Skin Tones. Some of the symbols look a little odd when adjusting the skin tone but it’s at least a step towards diversity. Can also edit buttons to use other symbols: PCS High Contrast, SymbolStix (with the option to globally change Skin Tones), Widgit & Grid 3. You can use a mix of different types of symbols on a grid.
* Several languages and lots of high quality voice options
* Can add recorded speech Message Banking
* Can alter pronunciation of words
* Settings for writing (editing the dictionary for word prediction, chat history, capitalization, auto replace, toggle on/off adult symbols, edit the small words list, abbreviations)
* Has the option to include symbols + text in the sentence bar for all of the PODD grid sets
* Volume controls that are easily accessible in all grid sets. The cursor controls and lots of other controls are included in both PODD 60 grid sets.
* Has a “Search” feature that will show the path to specific items. FYI… the search must match the exact wording on the button in order to find it. Having a Search feature is especially helpful for SLPs and teachers who may be using lots of different types of AAC with students / patients and want to model PODD.
* Has the option to include symbols + text in the sentence bar for all PODD grid sets (this is not an option in the PODD 60 page sets in simPODD)
* Several formatting options for the chat writing area (sentence bar)
* Has the option to have buttons highlighted when activated (options: color cell background, color cell border or no visual highlight & lots of options for the specific color of highlighting). Used with Touch Accommodations in Accessibility Settings.
* Can easily edit the style of a grid set (theme: modern, bubble or blocky font; cell layout: label above or below the symbol; empty cells: toggle between visible/hidden; cell spacing: extra small, small, medium, large, extra large, jumbo)
* Lots of color options for the grid background
* Ability to add rows and columns to grids
* Remote editing capabilities via their free Grid 3 software for Windows computers. This is especially helpful in the midst of the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic where lots of services are being provided via teletherapy or distance learning.
* DropBox backup

* Their website indicates works with all access methods, including a version optimised for eye gaze access.

Has the following PODD Grid options:
PODD 15 Preschool
PODD 15+ Preschool
PODD 15 School
PODD 15+ School
PODD 60 Expanded Key Word
PODD 60 Complex Syntax

There are two versions of the app that both include PODD 15 Preview & PODD 60 Preview grid sets. There is not access to full PODD grid sets within the apps without purchasing the $79.99 in app purchase:

* Grid for iPad – AAC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/grid-for-ipad-aac/id1064332378 (free and has 30 day free trial but the full PODD grid sets are not included, then requires a subscription for $9.99 per month but in order to have access to PODD you would need to purchase the in-app purchase $79.99 that includes all of the PODD grid sets)

* Grid for iPad – VPP, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/grid-for-ipad-vpp/id1339153708, $349.99 (up front purchase of the app, no subscription needed) + $79.99 for PODD for Grid (purchased via IAP, includes all the PODD grid sets) = $429.98

You can try out the full PODD grid sets as part of the free trial of Grid 3 on a computer running Windows 10. I initially got an error message when attempting to open them on my laptop but when I restarted my computer they all worked fine: https://thinksmartbox.com/news/new-podd-grid-sets/. (update 7/27/20: I received this helpful info from Smartbox: https://thinksmartbox.com/answer/unable-access-phonics-free-trial/)

I wish they had included the full PODD grids in the free trial in the app so we could actually trial them on the device that would be used for that patient/student. But viewing them on my laptop at least let me see what was in each grid set and in the controls area on each one. And I was able to install different voices to try.

Helpful videos on their YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/SmartboxAssistiveTechnology

The PODD Manual for Grid 3 contains info explaining the differences between paper PODDs vs. high tech PODDs and lots of other helpful info: https://thinksmartbox.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PODD-manual-v2-April-2020.pdf. Since the developer of PODD won’t allow the digital versions to be identical to paper PODD books, I found it especially helpful to have info about which digital PODD grid sets correspond best to a particular type of paper PODD book. It’s very helpful that the Grid for iPad app includes these details when looking through the grid sets as well as having it in their manual. Read the manual for in depth details about each grid set. Here’s a brief summary:

* PODD 15 Preschool & PODD 15 Preschool grid sets have a similar vocabulary and organization to the one-page opening 12
per page expanded function PODD paper communication books.

* PODD 15+ Preschool & PODD 15+ School grid sets have a similar vocabulary organization to the one-page opening 20 per
page expanded function PODD paper communication books.

* PODD 60 Expanded Key Word grid set has a similar language complexity and vocabulary organization to the two- grid opening 70 and two-grid opening with a side panel 48 expanded key word PODD paper communication books.

* PODD 60 Complex Syntax grid set has a similar language complexity and vocabulary organisation to the two- grid opening 90+ and the two-grid opening with a side panel 100+ complex syntax PODD communication books.

Their PODD – Getting Started guide is also helpful: https://thinksmartbox.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PODD-getting-started-June-2020.pdf

Smartbox Community Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smartboxcommunity

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Snap Core First with PODD

3. Snap Core First by Tobii Dynavox

Snap PODD is available as an in-app purchase within the Snap Core First AAC app by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first-aac/id1257753762, iPad only, iOS 10.0 or later. Snap PODD released as IAP option: 11/10/20, Most recent app update: 12/14/20. Getting PODD requires purchasing the app & then purchasing the in-app purchase to add PODD. More info: https://us.tobiidynavox.com/pages/podd-page-set

Key Features:
* PCS symbols
* PCS High Contrast symbols are included in the Snap Core First AAC app but will need to be downloaded before you can use them. There are not any premade pagesets with the high contrast symbols and there is not a quick way to swap out to use them (requires button by button editing)
* PCS Safeguard symbols available (requires download, can toggle on “safe symbol search” when editing to exclude explicit symbols)
* Lots of high quality voice options
* Only available in English (USA & Australia)
* Can add recorded speech
* Can alter pronunciation of words
* Settings for User (options to toggle on/off: use symbols in message window, use highlighting in message window, speak when inserting into message window, automatically inflect grammar buttons, automatically form contractions, show symbols on word prediction buttons on keyboard)
* Has the option to include symbols + text in the sentence bar for all PODD grid sets (this is not an option in the PODD 60 page sets in simPODD)
* Has a “Search” feature that will show the path to specific items. Doesn’t have to match the exact wording on the button in order to find it. Having a Search feature is especially helpful for SLPs and teachers who may be using lots of different types of AAC with students / patients and want to model PODD.
* Can edit page background color (for entire pageset & for individual pages, lots of color options)
* Can easily edit the style of a Pageset: font (type, size, boldness), text position (above, below, left, right of symbol, image only, text only), spacing between buttons, page background color, toolbar background color, message window font (type, size, color) and message bar background (but not color of the white window itself). Button editing: background color, border, button label, label position (so individual buttons can be different than the pageset)
* Ability to add rows and columns to a page
* When you add a button it automatically sets the background color to match the word type (can be edited)
* Options for formatting the Message Window (can change size, can change the color of the background behind the message window under pageset editing but cannot change the color of the message window itself)
* Controls button on Main/home page leads to Controls page (Options vary based on version of PODD: volume options (whisper, talk, classroom, yell), Siri, Google Home Speaker, Alexa, Boardmaker Activities, AccessIT Menu, time, date, etc…)
* Whiteboard (included in PODD 60 Expanded Key Word & PODD 60 Complex Syntax, can be added as a button action in other versions)
* Can add Positive Behavior Supports as button actions (First Then, Mini-Schedule, Script, Visual Timer)
* Access method options: touch, touch enter, touch exit, scanning (1 switch auto scan, 2 switch step scan, 1 switch scan, 1 switch dwell scan, inverse scan), navigation type (swiping, navigation buttons, both), selection feedback sound
* Can create and name an unlimited number of Users to easily toggle between PODD pageset options (very helpful when using the app during AAC evals)
* Data tracking
* Can lock areas via passcode: edit, sync, data tracking, search, lightbulb
* Can print pages (in edit mode, tap the “Page” button – Print Pages – Print (Note: a warning pops up that the app may close unexpectedly if you attempt to print more than 100 pages at a time)
* Back up via myTobiiDynavox (User, Page Set, Page Bundle). Sync (Page Set). Export/Import Locally (User, Page Set, Page Bundle) – see manual for details
* Can sync between devices (an icon on the Home page notifies you when syncing is needed)
* MyTobiiDynavox for Professionals Program that provides certified SLPs with free voice output + free access to the premium pagesets (PODD & Gateway) within the free version of the app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first/id1072799231). Process a bit convoluted – see this post for tips: https://bit.ly/37z2oHS

Includes 6 PODD book options:
PODD 15 Preschool
PODD 15+ Preschool
PODD 15 School
PODD 15+ School
PODD 60 Expanded Key Word
PODD 60 Complex Syntax

Trial Snap PODD free for 60-days on up to 2 devices. Info: https://www.mytobiidynavox.com/Store/SnapCoreFirstTrial?Product=PODD (SLPs who need ongoing free access should look at the MyTobiiDynavox for Professionals program. See info above)

The Tobii Dynavox Community Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tobiidynavoxcommunity/

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4. PODD with Compass by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/podd-with-compass/id907333758, iPad only, iOS 8.0 or later, $299.99. Last update: 12/3/18. Now that Tobii Dynavox has released PODD as an in-app purchase within Snap Core First there is essentially no reason to recommend this older app for purchase. The only exception I can think of are those who have an older iPad that cannot be updated to the iOS needed for simPODD or Grid for iPad but then you have to consider how much longer that old of an iPad will continue to function. Here’s the PODD with Compass manual for anyone who may need it: https://www.mytobiidynavox.com/Support/Documentation.

Introduction to PODD for DynaVox Compass, by Gayle Porter http://www.dynavoxtech.com/training/online/recorded-web-classes/details/?id=4269 or http://uk.dynavoxtech.com/training/online/recorded- web-classes/details/?id=4269 (unfortunately it appears that recorded webinar was removed from both websites). But this different presentation about PODD with Compass by another PODD trainer is out on YouTube: https://youtu.be/rw0lNEjGbh8


Which is the best digital PODD option? It depends on what features you need the most. There are features that I love in all 3 (simPODD, Grid for iPad and Snap Core First). They are all HUGE improvements over what you may have used in the PODD with Compass app. I wish I could take the best features out of each of those three and combine them into one app….. but since that’s not possible here are a few thoughts.

Features that would lead me to choose simPODD… if I needed:
* a simple way to customize and print PODD books all from the convenience of an iPad (this is a HUGE plus…. especially since Boardmaker 7 is not useable on an iPad, making PODD books still requires the separate PODD CD & there are significant issues right now with Boardmaker 7 importing PODD books)

* the option to globally change Skin Tones
* intuitive editing and use of grammar pop-ups (especially nice for those familiar with their Proloquo2Go app)
* cursor controls that are easily accessible in all page sets
* an “expand message” feature where you can expand the sentence bar and then use “cursor controls” to be able to delete specific items in the sentence bar.
* options to share messages via e-mail & iMessaging, share messages to social media (Twitter and Facebook… must have those apps installed and be logged in), copy messages to the clipboard to use in other apps, add to the Notes app, or save to Files (only the text is shared not the symbols)
* fast and automatic backup to iCloud

Features that would lead me to choose Grid for iPad with PODD added as an IAP… if I needed:
* a variety of symbol options (PCS is the default but other symbols can be used when editing: PCS High Contrast, SymbolStix, Widgit, Grid 3)

* the option to globally change Skin Tones in both PCS & SymbolStix symbol sets
* several language options
* a “Search” feature that will show the path to specific items (FYI… The search must match the exact wording on the button in order to find it). This is especially helpful for SLPs and teachers who may be using lots of different types of AAC with students / patients and want to model PODD.
* the option to add recorded speech Message Banking
* to alter pronunciation of words
* settings for writing (editing the dictionary for word prediction, chat history, capitalization, auto replace, toggle on/off adult symbols, edit the small words list, abbreviations)
* the option to include symbols + text in the sentence bar for all PODD grid sets (this is not an option in the PODD 60 page sets in simPODD)
* the option to have buttons highlighted when activated (options: color cell background, color cell border or no visual highlight & lots of options for the specific color of highlighting). Used with Touch Accommodations in Accessibility Settings.
* free remote editing capabilities. This is especially helpful in the midst of the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic where lots of services are being provided via teletherapy or distance learning.
* DropBox backup

Features that would lead me to choose Snap Core First with PODD added as an IAP… if I needed:
* a “Search” feature that will show the path to specific items and doesn’t require an exact match to wording on the button in order to find it. This is especially helpful for SLPs and teachers who may be using lots of different types of AAC with students / patients and want to model PODD.
* to alter pronunciation of words
* access to PCS Safeguard symbols
* the option to include symbols + text in the sentence bar for all PODD grid sets (this is not an option in the PODD 60 page sets in simPODD)
* to edit the page background color for the entire pageset (especially helpful if you are wanting to use a dark background for use with high contrast symbols
* to have a button background color automatically match the word type while editing
* integrated controls for Siri, Google Home Speaker, Alexa & Boardmaker Activities
* the option for a Whiteboard (included in PODD 60 Expanded Key Word & PODD 60 Complex Syntax, can be added as a button action in other versions)
* options for Positive Behavior Supports as button actions (First Then, Mini-Schedule, Script, Visual Timer)
* to create and name an unlimited number of Users to easily toggle between PODD pageset options (very helpful when using the app during AAC evals)
* data tracking
* to print pages (note: a warning pops up that the app may close unexpectedly if you attempt to print more than 100 pages at a time. This is to print pages as seen within the app… NOT to print official paper PODD books like is available within simPODD)
* MyTobiiDynavox for Professionals Program that provides certified SLPs with free voice output + free access to the premium pagesets (PODD & Gateway) within the free version of the app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first/id1072799231). Process a bit convoluted – see this post for tips: https://bit.ly/37z2oHS

Unfortunately Snap Core First doesn’t offer the option to globally change Skin Tones for PCS Symbols like is available in Grid for iPad


Comparison of the total costs over time:

1 year period:
simPODD yearly subscription: $139.99
Grid for iPad – subscription: $9.99 x 12 months = $119.88 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $199.87 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)
Grid for iPad – up front purchase: $349.99 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $429.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

Snap Core First – up front purchase: $49.99 + PODD in-app purchase: $149.99 = $199.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

2 year period:
simPODD: $139.99 yearly subscription x 2 years = $279.98
Grid for iPad – subscription: $9.99 x 24 months = $239.76 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $319.75 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)
Grid for iPad – up front purchase: $349.99 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $429.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

Snap Core First – up front purchase: $49.99 + PODD in-app purchase: $149.99 = $199.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

3 year period:
simPODD: $139.99 yearly subscription x 3 years = $419.97
simPODD 3-year license: $419.99 (purchased at : https://assistiveware.onfastspring.com)
Grid for iPad – subscription: $9.99 x 36 months = $359.64 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $439.63
Grid for iPad – up front purchase: $349.99 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $429.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

Snap Core First – up front purchase: $49.99 + PODD in-app purchase: $149.99 = $199.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

4 year period:
simPODD: $139.99 yearly subscription x 4 years = $559.96
Grid for iPad – subscription: $9.99 x 48 months = $479.52 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $559.51 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)
Grid for iPad – up front purchase: $349.99 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $429.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

Snap Core First – up front purchase: $49.99 + PODD in-app purchase: $149.99 = $199.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

5 year period:
simPODD: $139.99 yearly subscription x 5 years = $699.95
simPODD 5-year license: $699.99 (purchased at : https://assistiveware.onfastspring.com)
Grid for iPad – subscription: $9.99 x 60 months = $599.40 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $679.39 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)
Grid for iPad – up front purchase: $349.99 + $79.99 for PODD IAP = $429.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

Snap Core First – up front purchase: $49.99 + PODD in-app purchase: $149.99 = $199.98 (+ any costs associated with creating any paper PODD books)

The bottom line: If you already have a paper PODD, Snap Core First with PODD is the most affordable option if you are just comparing digital PODD options. simPODD is the most affordable option if needing to create a paper PODD + have the digital PODD. If just comparing digital PODD options, the prices of simPODD vs. Grid for iPad with PODD added are similar especially when you consider most individuals who use PODD for AAC have complex communication needs and would be using it for a long period of time.


Other electronic PODD options

The section above is focused solely on PODD options available in iOS apps on the iPad. So at least the hardware (iPad) is the same (although there are also various models / sizes of iPads to consider).

For those looking for more options…. there are other high tech alternatives available for PODD on a variety of traditional speech generating devices and locked/dedicated/fundable/managed iOS-based or Windows-based devices from several different companies:

* Smartbox (Grid Pad series of devices, Grid Pad with eye gaze device, iOS-based Talk Pad series of devices, Microsoft Surface Go tablet-based Touch Pad series of devices. See info under the Devices tab on their website: https://thinksmartbox.com)

* Tobii Dynavox (within Snap Core First on I-series eye gaze devices, EM-12 Microsoft Surface Pro tablet-based devices, I-110 devices, SC Tablet iOS-based devices, Indi and Indi 7 devices. See info on their website: https://us.tobiidynavox.com/collections/devices/++snap-core-first?sort_by=manual)

* Jabbla (MindExpress) (Vibe, Vibe 12; may also be able to use on a Windows-based tablet. https://www.jabbla.com/en/vocab/podd/, https://www.jabbla.com/en/faq/system-requirements-for-mind-express/, purchasing info varies by country: https://www.jabbla.com/en/how-to-buy/. The cost in the USA – https://www.jabbla.com/en/how-to-buy/: permanent web license $620 + yearly PODD subscription $60; yearly subscription $230 + yearly PODD subscription $60. I can’t comment about the features since I don’t own it or own a Windows-based tablet. New 2/18/21: they have French PODD: https://www.facebook.com/115115398560260/posts/5202978556440560/?d=n

* Talk to Me Technologies (wego series of iOS-based devices & zuvo series of Windows-based devices. See flyers for each: https://www.talktometechnologies.com/pages/speech-device-brochures)

* AbleNet (possibly. QuickTalker series of iOS-based devices. You would need to contact them to ask whether PODD is available as an add-on. Although their website doesn’t specifically mention PODD it does state “Your choice of any augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app available from the iOS App Store” which would then open this up as another fundable/locked/managed device option for the three apps compared above. See their website: https://quicktalkerfreestyle.com/quicktalker-freestyle-speech-device/

* ACCI (possibly. You would need to contact them to ask whether PODD is available as an add-on to their Snap Core First option: https://www.acciinc.com/dedicated-acci-choice-snap-core-first-full/ or if they offer a bundled option for Grid for iPad plus PODD as an ad-on)

* Forbes AAC (possibly in their ProSlate series of iOS-based devices or WinSlate series of Windows-based devices. You would need to contact them to ask whether PODD is available as an add-on since PODD isn’t specifically mentioned on their website: https://www.forbesaac.com/proslate-series & https://www.forbesaac.com/new-winslate)

I won’t be tackling the task of comparing PODD on all of these various SGDs. That would be an even bigger undertaking to compare in a post since then you are talking about hardware and software features to compare and consider.

There are many reasons why one would consider a traditional SGD vs. just an iPad with an app (simPODD, Grid for iPad or Snap Core First) or just a Windows tablet with an app (Grid 3, Snap Core First or possibly Jabbla/MindExpress): durability, warranty, tech support, built-in switch ports for scanning, eye gaze access, etc…

These options are all much more expensive and very few families, SLPs, schools or facilities would be purchasing them unless they are doing so as part of a full AAC eval for funding through private insurance or Medicaid for an individual. That is a complex process that’s too detailed to include in this post.


  • Just wanting the ability to make printed paper PODD books? Tobii Dynavox recently launched Boardmaker 7. There have been lots of issues but hopefully those will be resolved. They offer the following pricing options for Boardmaker 7:
    • Personal (single account with one license): $99 per year
    • Professional (single account with up to 10 students): $199 per year
    • Organization (multiple accounts with multiple students): no price listed – request a quote
    • Standard – Individual (one-time purchase): $399
    • Standard – Group: no price listed – request quote

    [The previous price of purchasing a Boardmaker version 6 CD was $399.00]

    In order to have PODD you still have to purchase their separate PODD CD ($300.95)

    *** There are significant issues with its abilities to import PODD books into Boardmaker 7. 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/

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    The bottom line: It would take 5 years of using simPODD to equal the cost of the Boardmaker 7 Standard Individual + the PODD CD and simPODD can be used on the fly on an iPad plus can be used as a digital PODD in the event that you decide to do that. Plus Boardmaker 7 is currently having significant issues importing PODD books.

    So those wanting to look for a more affordable and portable way to make and edit PODD books to be printed should really consider simPODD vs. Boardmaker. I find most kids do equally as well with SymbolStix symbols as they do with PCS symbols. And if you want a very affordable way to create other materials with SymbolStix symbols, take a look at the iESLp app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ieslp/id912953895iESLP, iPad only) a bargain for a one time purchase of $19.99 (no subscription needed) and it includes a large library of SymbolStix and lots of templates. A similar app that can be used to create items with PCS symbols is the Tools2Talk+ app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/tools2talk-create-your-own-communication-aids-and-chat/id1074982035, iPad only) for a one time purchase of $47.99.

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    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.

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    I’m retired from providing clinical services but am doing AAC consulting, actively posting about AAC and apps and using AAC in volunteer work.

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    Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
    AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkidsaac/
    Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amoorad
    Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com