What is PODD?

• A language organization system

• A system offering light-tech and high-tech options that realizes the need for both

• A system that provides access into all access methods and language options for all language levels

• A system that includes core words and predictably associated vocabulary

• A system designed to grow as language develops systematically from early functions to complex syntax, while maintaining learned patterns

• A system where sentences are made across the page, so words locations are highly predictable  

• A system that uses pragmatic branches to mark the intents of messages for early communicators the way those who speak do through gesture and intonation

• A system that keeps the areas of many words

• A system designed for aided language input, discourse, and conversation

• A system that won't feel so cumbersome once you see how it can support authentic, meaningful communication

• A system like any other that gets more comfortable as you become familiar

The pragmatic branches (e.g., asking a question) used in the early and expanded function, PODDs give users a method to set the underlying intention of a message for their listeners. It provides communication partners context for whatever words come next. Early communicators do this through vocal intonation, eye gaze, and gesture. It is one of the unique ways PODD accommodates AAC users with complex needs, physical challenges, and sensory processing differences.


What is Verbal Referencing?

• A strategy in which a partner describes a communication behavior they observe, as well as their interpretation of it 

• Helpful for teaching new movements for communication

• Verbal Referencing provides the student with feedback on body movement in space, partner perspective, and own strength in interaction

• A helpful strategy for maintaining partner attention when communication is slow or effortful


AAC shouldn't feel like work!

Don't make AAC feel like work! It won't become their voice if it feels like work.

We want to teach communication functions, vocabulary, and grammar. The AAC user needs to see other people use AAC to talk about things they find interesting.

When teaching AAC, we focus on the device and forget that we are all multi-modal communicators. All methods of communication have their place, depending on whom you're talking to and the context. We should respond to all forms of communication. 


If we ask for an individual to repeat it using AAC, we teach that AAC is work. If AAC is work, how can it be their voice? Respond to their communication by referring verbally to it and modeling language on their AAC that reflects that intention. Respond to communication and demonstrate the target skill.⁣


What's the problem with prompting in AAC?

Prompts and cues get discussed a lot when it comes to teaching AAC. We have so many things we want to teach. We have good intentions, but we have to be careful.



-It's their voice! We can guess based on context. We might get it right, close, or be totally off base. When we propose language that does not match their internal thought, we're teaching them that the device isn't their voice. We teach them that it's another task other people impose on them.

-When we use many communication prompts, we also teach our learners to be responders, not initiators. Everything we want for them in the long term requires that they initiate their thoughts. Our teaching needs to reflect that.

-How do our learners understand our prompts and cues? How do they begin to think about us? Are we helpful? Are we annoying? Are we no longer fun to interact with? Communication is about relationships. 


Functional Communication

What is it?

• Requesting what you want

• Expressing your opinions and preferences 

• Protesting undesired actions, events, items

• Asking questions to get information about your life and topics that interest you

• Disagreeing, complaining, negotiating, telling people off

• Self-advocating and making decisions related to your own life 

• Talking about personal experiences and the world around you

• Establishing and growing relationships with others

• Literacy - the ability to read and write allows complete communication autonomy

• Using language to regulate yourself and your environment, as well as to direct others


What is not?

• Asking for things

• Limited language that is selected  by someone other than the communicator

• Limited to topics related to physical needs and activities of daily living


Independence vs. Autonomy


May limit autonomy:

• restored or limited words may mean the message doesn't match an inner thought 

• some devices may allow independence, but not novel message generation


It may not be possible all the time. Some AAC users can be independent with high-tech but need a smart partner to support access to a robust light-tech option.


Important, but frequently overestimated. When independence is the primary goal, communication autonomy can be compromised. 


-Saying what you want to say. 


-Choose how you will communicate (device, gesture, eye gaze, body language).


-Choosing when to say something, but also choosing not to.


-May not always be independent.


-Request access to and instruction for robust language and spelling.


-Likely requires multiple AAC options.


-It doesn't need to be highly sophisticated. If you choose signs instead of language, that's autonomous. It's just crucial that you have the choice. 


What makes an AAC system robust?

Characteristics to look for:

-Lots of words with both core and fringe vocabulary, and enough variety to allow for an individual style.

-Lots of different kinds of words (nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives).

-Ability to communicate a wide range of communicative functions. For example, comment, ask questions, protest.

-An organization that supports a flow of conversation.

-Options to help grammar. For example, verb tenses, plurals, comparatives, possessives.

-Option for preprogrammed messages for frequently used phrases, advocacy, and self-talk.

-An organization that maintains a motor plan as much as possible to support efficient access. 

-Options to grow language over time.

-Access to the full alphabet and word prediction.

-An organization that accommodates an individual's access method.

-It can be available at any time (high tech and low tech options).


Light-tech AAC is not just a back-up!

Everyone using AAC needs a paper-based option to complement their high-tech device. They give the AAC user another option to pick from to communicate whatever, whenever, and however, they want. It is one of the methods to make sure that they always have a way to communicate. Moreover, a paper-based system also has many advantages.


Light-tech AAC advantages:

• Light-tech supports rely on help from human associates. These associates can accommodate the AAC user in ways that a computer cannot. They can provide extra time and interpret selections that are in-between locations. They can also respond to non-verbal communication that might indicate an error.

• Paper-based supports are less costly.

• They can be made highly durable and waterproof.

• They never run out of batteries.

• For AAC users that access their system using scanning, light-tech AAC can provide a way to communicate while they work to develop the motor skills necessary for switch scanning.

• All AAC takes time. Light-tech AAC gives partners a way to participate actively, which increases their attention and engagement with the AAC user. 

Fluent AAC

Fluent AAC is the voice of over 10 000 people with speech difficulties!





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