AAC adapted books are books where the alphabetical text goes along graphic symbols.
The text can be symbolized word by word or, alternatively, translated by concepts into symbols.
Furthermore, in picture books for children, the text is accompanied by illustrations.
Regardless of all this features, AAC adapted books are primarily nice, coloured, fun, instructive books.
And as traditional books, AAC adapted ones can be about any topic and be read in any moment. They are addressed to everyone who wants to read them, without distinction.
Graphic symbols that are represented in these books are part of Augmentative Alternative Communication’s symbol families, and aim to let those who cannot speak understand and communicate.
Therefore, these symbols are partly already known by the little readers who turn the pages of this kind of books.
Just as traditional books, AAC adapted books aim to offer a special moment of interaction, communicative exchange and exposure to language.
But AAC adapted books have another advantage: the presence of a support for the understanding through graphic symbols. This kind of support is essential for children with complex communication needs, but is actually useful for every child!
Thanks to symbols, even preschool children who haven't learned to read yet can venture into a first independent reading experience, using symbols to recreate the story they heard an adult read.
But the benefits of graphic symbols are not only limited to children! They are also a strong ally for foreigners who begin to study a second language. They can use them to guess and then learn new words, to interact when they do not know a word or to better enjoy a story that would otherwise remain silent.
There are some opportunities that only AAC adapted books can offer.
The reading method is the main difference between adapted books and traditional ones.
In order to read this kind of books it is necessary to use the so called "modeling” method. In other words, the reader (that at the beginning is the adult) points the symbols one by one, waltzing with the index finger on the page and being careful not to cover the text nor the symbols.
The modeling method helps to stimulate the attention and concentration of the person to whom the book is being read, involve her in the reading and ease the association between the oral word and the symbol.
This does not mean that the reading gets unnatural or slowed down: the reading speed is the usual and desired one; it’s the finger that must learn to follow the voice rhythm! Practising with the modeling before starting the reading is then essential.
AAC adapted books are getting more and more common in Italy, both as readaptations of already-existing books and as a real publishing phenomenon.
The circulation of AAC adapted books in Italy started in 2006 with libraries guided by the Centro Sovrazonale di Comunicazione Aumentativa (Augmentative Communication center) and the Centro Benedetta d’Intino, that started to produce books modified with symbol texts, aiming to offer them next to traditional ones.
What started as the production of books modified by librarians and clinicians turned into a real network of libraries that make hundreds of titles of patiently manufactured books (both by librarians and volunteers) available for loan, under the direction of the Centro Sovrazonale di Comunicazione Aumentativa.
In addition to this, there are different publishing houses that publish every year new AAC adapted books for all children.