Wednesday, April 27, 2011


 PODD.  PODD or Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display is a both a method of communication/method of teaching communication and a set of manual communication books. PODD was created by Gayle Porter in Australia.  PODD materials are arranged especially to be used for social interactions (pragmatically).  Messages in the PODD flow from one page to the next by way of page numbers that guide the user through a conversation.  So a conversation can move easily through conversational turns.  

Wow!  First of all if you ever get the chance to attend a workshop Linda Burkhart presents you should go. Second of all it is seeing videos of PODD in action that really "sells" it for use with our students.  The first thing I did when I came home from the conference was apologize to our SLP.  The second thing was to lay out a plan to introduce PODD into my classroom.  PODD really is everything that people who use it rave about, but it can be hard to tell that from reading descriptions and looking at pictures.  If you really want to see what PODD is about you should start by going to YouTube or a similar video site and watch videos of PODD in action.

PODDs are intended to be as much for receptive communication as they are for expressive communication.  Communication partners of individuals using a PODD also use the PODD to communicate.  Modeling or Aided Language Stimulation happens constantly as both communication partners use the PODD.  For the first it pretty much only adults used the book.  Eventually our student started to internalize the way PODD worked and communicate with us using it.

The only way to purchase PODD right now, in the USA, is from Mayer-Johnson as a Boardmaker Add-on.  It costs $325 (in addition to the cost of Boardmaker if you don't already have it). You will have to customize, print and bind the PODD books yourself.  The PODD boards that are available for purchase are designed for direct selection.  It is possible to customize these yourself for visual, auditory or multi-sensory scanning or other means of access.  Gayle Porter, Linda Burkhart and others are working on creating alternative access PODD materials to sell.


PODD can also be a great bridge to high tech dynamic display communication.  In our school we have modified it on a Tobii C-eye for a student who communicates through eye gaze and on Proloquo2Go on an iPad for use with direct selection.  (I am waiting with baited breath for Proloquo2Go to add two switch scanning so the student described above can user his iPad to talk!)  Currently using PODD on a high tech device means doing all the programming yourself, but it is worth it.  I have chatted with a few high tech AAC vendors about PODD being available as a vocabulary set, but currently none of the vendors has plans to do so (at least that they were willing to share with the likes of me!). 

You can read more about PODD from Linda Burkhart's website and handouts.  She also has a great hand out about using PODD with Partner Assisted Scanning, the hand out is meant for working with those who have Rett Syndrome, but applies to most, if not all, situations in which you would use partner assisted scanning.  Novita also has a great website about PODD.

As you begin or continue to use PODD I think these tips from The Tasmania School of Special Education are important to remember:

"Using the PODD book………. “go with the zen of the book”
  • Don’t become overwhelmed by the size and organisation of the book, stress about where to find a specific vocabulary item, or worry that the child will not be capable of navigating through all the levels. The child doesn’t have to navigate the levels. The partner can make the level changes for them. 
  • Always begin on the front page with a pragmatic branch starter 
  • Follow the numbers to get to the end message 
  • Follow the operational commands 
  • DO NOT TURN PAGES ONE AT A TIME LOOKING FOR VOCABULARY. If the child sees others do this that is what they will do. 
  • Go back to page 1 at the end of each message. 
  • Re-auditorise or ‘re-cap’ the message when your partner is selecting symbols or when you are moving between multiple levels in order to keep the message ‘current’."
The only way to purchase PODD right now, in the USA, is from Mayer-Johnson is as a Boardmaker Add-on.  It costs $325 (in addition to the cost of Boardmaker if you don't already have it). 


  1. Really great post - thanks Kate. PODD is just amazing - I've had experiences like yours in using it and wouldn't use anything else now. Thanks for posting this :)

  2. Thanks for this very helpful post, and great to hear that you student is experiencing success. I am trying a PODD format on Proloquo2Go as well for some of my clients-and finding it a bit challenging to program.

  3. So glad to hear how well PODD is working with your students!! Sounds like you have really embraced the concepts behind PODD!!! - Linda

  4. Perfect timing for this discussion, Kate! Our Rett syndrome parent list has been talking about PODD this week, so your post fits right in with the conversation. I hope you don't mind that I shared a link...

    Thanks for all your hard work on your blog--it is a real treasure!!!

  5. Also seen these books setting the scene for and becoming the basis of some wonderful natural communication. I love that line from the Tasmanian school about the "Zen" of the book, a beautifully apt way of describing a very useful AAC tool.

  6. very well, that's great. thanks for this article.

  7. Thanks for a great post Kate. I have used PODDs for the past five years and honestly do not know how I would teach without them. From Mary-Louise

  8. Great post - I haven't gone down the PODD book path even though we do partner assisted (ie holding the actual foot switches) auditory scanning and have heard Gayle speak. Guess it has been a time issue but you have reinvigorated my interest so will move it up the to-do list. Regarding access via scanning for P2Go (and other apps) check out the iPortal video I posted about earlier in the week - very exciting stuff for powerchair users.


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