A Brand New Ability Guidebook for Italy! I Am Going to the Roman Forum!

Rome is such an amazing city! Just walking through its cobblestone streets, soaking in the architecture and the history, feel like a gift. My way of saying thank you is to create these Ability Guidebooks with the photos from my visit. I invite others to do the same–create an Ability Guidebook for their own community. I will help any way I can!

Without further ado, I introduce the newest Ability Guidebook, this one for the Roman Forum!

I Am Going To The Roman Forum Ability Guidebook-2

I Am Going To The Roman Forum Ability Guidebook-2

Explore Rome and Visit the Macuteo Obelisk! A New Ability Guidebook!


Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Macuteo Obelisk

It is always fun when I get a new Ability Guidebook finished! I am inspired because I have had a volunteer step forward to translate the books into Italian!  You cannot Imagine how exciting it was to get that email!  I am writing these books for Italy knowing that only a few English speaking tourists might ever need them.

But I knew that once the books were in English, if I could find someone to translate, they could then be a valuable tool for people with autism who live in, or who are visiting Rome.

My hope is that I will inspire some people in Italy to step forward and make some books of their own! Even now my friend Bill Pierce is visiting Vienna taking pictures to create some additional Ability Guidebooks. Some of Sam Sennott’s students at Portland State University chose to make a book instead of doing a final paper. These are more awesome people stepping up to help create a permanant library of supports for people with autism! (And a support for teachers who are taking their younger students on field trips to these important cultural destinations).  I am thrilled to have Bill join me in this project and the students of PSU as well!

If anyone has decent pictures of the Vatican Museum entry I sure could use them….mine turned out pretty poorly.

Brett Bigham

2014 Oregon State Teacher of the Year

2015 NEA National Award for Teaching Excellence

Why I Spent A Saturday Making a Map

When I write an Ability Guidebook I do my best to take all of my own pictures.  But the one thing I am always lacking is maps.  Most maps are copyrighted and the ones that have been generously shared online, often don’t have the information I need.

Maps are an important way for people with autism to get an idea of where they are going on an upcoming journey. I know my books are better when they contain a map.

In April I needed a map of the Acropolis and found several online maps that I could publish, but, oddly enough, none of them had the restrooms marked on them. They were a mix of ancient architecture and modern viewpoints but they lacked the information my book needed.  I could have doctored up somebody else’s map but that didn’t seem right. And so I spent a Saturday creating a map of the Acropolis.

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Now I’m the first to acknowledge I am not a graphic artist.   But sometimes need pushes us to work outside of our comfort zone.  I needed a map with dark bold lines (for our friend’s with visual issues) that was simple in that it contained only the necessary information. That map didn’t exist and so now it does.

That last sentence is important to me. “That map didn’t exist and so now it does.”  That is how I feel about my books.  They are supports for people with autism and other neuro-diverse people. Some of those people need a support like this to get out into the world. That support didn’t exist so now it does.

What I’m doing didn’t exist so now it does.

That’s how I’m contributing. That’s how I’m leaving a mark. I’m setting an example, doing some of the work and trying to inspire others to jump in and contribute. This week Dr. Florian Sohn translated “I Am Going to the Parthenon” into German. That support didn’t exist for German speakers so now it does.

And that is why I spent a Saturday drawing a map of the Acropolis.  That’s why I spent this Saturday drawing a map of the Pantheon. That’s why I will probably spend next Saturday drawing a map of the Roman Forum. Because I want change and I’m willing to work to make it happen.


An Ability Guidebook for Rome! I Am Going To The Minerveo Obelisk!

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This is a very simple Guidebook on how to visit the Minerveo Obelisk near the Pantheon in Rome. Most tourists would visit the Pantheon and then wander by the Piazza della Minerva to see Bernini’s elephant with the ancient Egyptian Minerveo Obelisk mounted on top.  For our tourists with autism (or Italian kids on a field trip) they might need a more simple outing for the first attempt.

The trip to see the Pantheon and the trip to see the Minerveo Obelisk are the same. The obelisk, however, can be seen without entering a building and without too much difficulty.  The visit can be done in a taxi to simplify it even more if the need be.  If the visit to the Minerveo goes well, the next visit could be to the Macuteo Obelisk or to the Pantheon itself.  Once the stress of the trip is out of the way, each additional trip becomes easier and easier.

Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Minerveo Obelisk!

“I Am Going To The Pantheon!” A new Ability Guidebook for peeps with autism.

I Am Going To The Pantheon (AD)I am hoping to complete quite a few books from my trip to Italy. In the making I have books on the Arch of Constantine, The Roman Forum, The Vatican Museum and more!

It is my hope that people who speak other languages will step up and translate some of the books into their own language. This book, for instance, may be of great assistance to an English speaker with autism who is visiting the Pantheon. I know that only a handful of people might need such a support. But I am more than happy to make this for a handful of people. In my classroom I was making these for one person in particular at first. I saw how much it changed their world and so I am willing to keep creating the books in the hopes that it will open up someone’s world. I want there to be a tourist, somewhere, who needs this book.

But, honestly, what I am truly hoping to do is inspire others. I’m hoping and Italian speaker will see this and translate it.  THEN we have a whole different audience. In Italian this book becomes and opportunity for every person with autism in Italy. This book might mean the difference of some kid who is neuro-diverse getting to go on a field trip with the rest of his class.  In Italian, this book can be a tool for every kindergarten or first grade teacher taking their class  to the Pantheon.

And then if we ad German and Dutch, French and maybe Hungarian, then we are opening up a world.  And those translators might be enlightened and encouraged to create their own books for their own city’s.  My friend Florian from Passau is translating some now into German. Mike has translated several into Spanish. There are now books for Oregon and Washington, D.C., Peru, Italy and Greece.

I’m trying to make the world a bigger place for people with autism. I think it is working!Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Pantheon!