Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display

Students need consistent access to many words to communicate.  

Gayle Porter, a speech language pathologist in Australia, developed the PODD communication system. PODD organizes vocabulary to support expression and comprehension for people with complex communication needs. PODD communication books are typically low-tech (but also available as high tech). PODD can be modified to accommodate students with various complex communication, physical, and sensory needs. PODD trainings emphasize the importance of students having access to and competence in using a robust vocabulary throughout their day. The trainings also emphasize the need for students to have communication partners who know and respect their AAC system.  

Participants of this two-day introductory workshop learn to select, customize, and use PODD books and aided language input to promote autonomous communication.

Individuals who have attended a two-day introductory training and own the PODD software may purchase PODD books from Alt+Shift. PODD software is currently available for individuals able to use direct access (i.e., pointing). Software for creating and customizing PODD books involving alternative access methods (e.g., eye gaze, partner assisted visual scanning) is in development.

Partnering with Alt+Shift
ISDs interested in partnering with Alt+Shift to receive this training and implementation support should refer to Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication.  PODD is embedded in the Building Blocks professional learning opportunity.

Evidence Base

PODD Communication Books: A Promising Practice with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • This article explains the key features of PODD. It also explains how PODD can be a beneficial tool for individuals with Autism.

 AAC Modeling Intervention Research Review 

  • PODD utilizes aided language input as a foundation of modeling and teaching language to students with complex communication needs. This article reviews ten studies that engaged aided language input or modeling. The article explains the pragmatic, semantic, syntactic, and morphological outcomes of each study.

Effects of Interventions That Include Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication Input on the Communication of Individuals With Complex Communication Needs: A Meta-Analysis

  • This article reviews 26 studies involving aided language input. It explains the importance of providing aided language input to enhance expression and comprehension for AAC users.

How to Receive This Training

You can choose to partner with Alt+Shift or attend a scheduled Statewide Event. Read more about each option below. If you’d like to be notified when the next statewide event becomes available, you can request to be notified.

Partner with Alt+Shift

Training is provided to ISD staff as part of an ISD partnership. Training is typically provided to the entire district, building, or program staff. This depends on the specific ISD's implementation plan. Training is one piece of the partnership. Strategic planning, implementation support, and capacity building are also addressed through the partnership.

Attend a Statewide Event

Statewide events are opportunities to receive training, but with limited opportunities for follow up support. Participants can expect to gain ideas and strategies that would be usable immediately in their practice, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of the training as part of an exploration process for sites considering a partnership with Alt+Shift.

There are no upcoming events for this training.

Implementation Stories

Alt+Shift asked partners around the state to share their implementation experiences and the impact on adults and students where they work.

Lori Seagraves

Speech Language Pathologist
Clinton County RESA

Alt+Shift: Lori, your team was a Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Implementation site during the 2017-2018 school year. How have you implemented ideas and information gathered through your collaboration with Alt+Shift?

Lori Seagraves: Through our previous experience with bug-in-the-ear coaching, we realized how valuable video taping is as a tool, not only for coaching feedback but for self reflection. In the current cycle, having a plan, an agreement, and self analysis tools (the Practice Profiles) were essential to give the project direction and value.

AS: What impact has the training/ongoing support had on you and those you work with?

LS: Having another source to brainstorm solutions with has been invaluable. It is always interesting to see your practice through the eyes of a fellow therapist!

AS: Describe an implementation challenge you've encountered and how you were able to overcome it (or perhaps are still working to overcome it).

LS: Our biggest challenge has been with garnering buy in. Some of the itinerant staff, administration, and parents struggled with the comprehensive nature of the communication tool. This is a continuous challenge as staff shifts and as the student makeup of the classrooms evolve. Our greatest tools in overcoming this challenge have been to have informational workshops, have parent mentors, and make sure we disseminate information in a timely manner.

AS: Describe an implementation success or highlight.

LS: Our data has demonstrated that, through coaching and training, we have significantly expanded the environments and persons implementing PODD with students. We have also demonstrated that data collection does not have to be complicated in order to be useful. It can also be completed by all persons in the student's environment.

AS: What are your next steps? How will you continue your implementation of PODD and/or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)?

LS: We plan to continue to take data that will inform our practice, to set up consistent trainings, and to establish systematic coaching for all users of AAC within our county.

Continue the conversation with Lori Seagraves

Jennifer Osborn

Speech Language Pathologist
Sanilac ISD

Alt+Shift (AS): In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) training/implementation process?

Jennifer Osborn (JO): Since August 2017, Sanilac Intermediate School District (ISD) has implemented PODD into each of our center programs. All staff were provided with PODD books, which they began wearing immediately. Teachers, administrators, and ancillary staff continue to be diligent in wearing and using PODD to talk with students. Meetings and conversations have allowed staff to take ownership for how they wear the book throughout the day and what areas of the day to begin using PODD to gain and hold the students’ interests. 

AS: What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with?

JO: Staff in our building have learned a new language and a new way to help their students in both expressing their wants, needs, and thoughts and understanding what is said to them through spoken language and pictures. Teachers have expressed the following:

  • “PODD has helped me embed more communication in my instruction than before training.”
  • “With PODD, students are independently coming up to teachers/staff and finding new pathways to words that they have never been shown.”
  • “PODD has enormously influenced every aspect of teaching.  I have seen rapid growth in spontaneous interaction.”
  • “PODD has made me more conscientious of words I am using during teaching.”

AS: Describe one implementation highlight or success.

JO: One implementation success is the number of students who are taking interest and starting to truly express themselves with PODD. Being able to tell the father of a 14-year-old student with complex communication needs (who hadn’t previously had a robust system or the opportunity to express herself) that she used PODD to say “I want to go visit my dad” is such a great feeling!

AS: Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working on overcoming it.

JO: The biggest implementation challenge/barrier is PODD only being used in the school environment. We have some parents who have attended a parent PODD training who have begun using it with their kids at home. They’ve reported it has impacted their understanding of what their child wants or needs. Their children are starting to use PODD to repair communication breakdowns. When PODD is only implemented at school, and not at home, we are not seeing as much growth in the area of expression.

AS: What are your next steps in the implementation process?

JO: While at the 2018 summer retreat, the PODD team decided to focus on becoming more proficient as PODD modelers. We want our students to use PODD to communicate. We believe if we, their communication partners, are more proficient, then the students will learn the language pathways and will excel themselves.

AS: How has Alt+Shift supported your district's PODD journey?

JO: Alt+Shift has supported our district since the 2017-2018 school year with monthly meetings and observations. In June 2018, a team from the ISD attended the Alt+Shift summer retreat which was amazing. It helped us determine the direction for the future of PODD in our district. This school year (2018-2019), we are supported through monthly meetings with our Alt+Shift PODD coach as well as biweekly coaching from another school district (another PODD implementation site). All of these together have allowed us to continue the momentum we have as a district in allowing our students to find and have an independent voice.

Continue the conversation with Jennifer Osborn

Dori Dally and Jennifer Jones

Speech Language Pathologist, Teacher Consultant for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Shiawassee RESD

Alt+Shift: In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the PODD training/implementation process? 

Dori: We have put steps in place to become more systematic with our implementation process. We’ve created an inventory and library of PODD books to better track which students and classrooms are using PODD and to cycle books for others to use when students progress from one book to the next. We’ve developed and expanded our PODD implementation team to include an array of disciplines including classroom teachers, speech pathologists, an occupational therapist, a social worker, our Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) consultants and administration. Members of our PODD implementation team attend the Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings of the teachers who work with complex communicators. At these meetings, we target two of the PODD pathways by Interactive Speech Pathology. We have also used this time to gather input from our classroom teachers about implementation, assess their feelings/levels of confidence with PODD implementation to guide our decision making, and to utilize this time for training opportunities. Also, we have provided one to two-hour PODD overviews for our paraprofessional staff and are working on setting up learning opportunities for our parents. 

AS: What impact has the training/process had on you and those you work with (e.g., teachers, students, ancillary staff, administrators, Community Mental Health, parents)?

DD: We have seen staff confidence levels and excitement continue to grow through training opportunities and the implementation process. Having access to expertise through Alt+Shift has facilitated the positive growth and changes we are experiencing.

Jennifer: Setting goals and an implementation plan at the summer retreat was huge for our team. In order for Shiawassee RESD to make progress, stay focused, and hold ourselves accountable, goal setting is crucial.

AS: Describe one (or two) implementation highlight(s) or success(es).

DD: We have a student who independently used PODD to communicate novel comments in both the school and home environments.

JJ: We have a student with complex needs using PODD to demonstrate some of his academic skills. He uses his PODD book to complete spelling tests and math problems. 

AS: Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working to overcome it.

JJ: One challenge is being able to purchase or make books for all of the students, families, and school staff who could benefit from using PODD. We received a MEEMIC grant for $500 and were able to purchase a number of two-page opening books. Also, the use of PODD for students with complex communication needs has rapidly increased. We want to maintain the fidelity of the system and are looking to develop and/or implement fidelity checklists. 

AS: What are your next steps in the implementation process?

DD: We are in the process of establishing a coach or coaches within our district who are available to work with staff throughout the district. 

JJ: We are continuing to work with families and Community Mental Health to increase usage and expand our students’ use of pragmatic functions. 

AS: How has Alt+Shift supported your district's PODD journey?

DD: Alt+Shift has been instrumental in providing training opportunities for our school district and PODD implementation team. We received the two-day PODD training in our district, attended the summer retreat, and have received regular implementation guidance.

JJ: Consulting on a regular basis with Carolyn, Alt+Shift, and the PODD community (other implementation sites) has been essential for our team. It has helped us to meet the goals we set at summer retreat and continue to grow professionally in our knowledge and use of PODD.

Continue the conversation with Dori Dally and Jennifer Jones

What Others are Saying

We asked partnership sites to share their experience related to the training. 

Personally, I have gained a mindset shift during our training and through the process of putting PODD systems in place with our students. Implementation is an imperfect process, for sure, but what's the alternative? Not having a voice? Switching up systems and starting over from scratch? Language is so essential to every part of our daily lives, and I do not take for granted the ability to be a small part in helping our students find their voices.

Sarah Hanson
Speech Language Pathologist
Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD

I am so excited about PODD. It gives our non-verbal students a way of expressing themselves clearly.

Dawn Weeks
Assistant Superintendent for Special Education
Barry ISD

Seeing how a whole team comes together working with PODD for our students is so inspiring. It's amazing to see a 14 year old, who has never had a voice, be able to tell us something she wants without being given choices!

Jennifer Osborn
Speech Language Pathologist
Sanilac ISD

Being an implementation site has helped support us through the technical aspects of implementation. It has also helped us through the more difficult aspects of adaptive coaching skills by leaning on the research of implementation science (such as the Knoster model). By looking at what we know about making sustainable, lasting change, we have been able to support our teachers, parents, and students when barriers arise. Coaching each other regionally, receiving coaching as a group with Alt+Shift's guidance, and working with other teams in the state at the summer retreat helped us do many things. We have crafted mission and vision statements and created goals for our organization.

Lori Seagraves
Speech Language Pathologist
Clinton County RESA

Additional Information


Visit the PODD-USA website to:

  • Find out when and where other PODD trainings are scheduled in the United States.
  • Access handouts and videos related to PODD.

Learn how to purchase PODD software or pagesets for speech generating devices.


PODD Book Request Form

Individuals who have attended a two-day introductory training and own the PODD software may purchase PODD books from Alt+Shift. PODD software is currently available for individuals able to use direct access (i.e., pointing). Software for creating and customizing PODD books involving alternative access methods (e.g., eye gaze, partner assisted visual scanning) is in development.

PODD Book Request Form