Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Developing Inclusive Library Services to Teens with Disabilities webinar

The 2017-2018 school year has officially begun, so let's get our learning on! Be sure to register for this free webinar as there are only 100 spaces available.

Developing Inclusive Library Services to Teens with Disabilities
Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 10:00-11:00am (CST)
Presented by Renee Grassi
Hosted by Minitex, An Information and Resource Sharing Program of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Nathan Anderson photos
Public libraries have a mission to serve and include all members of the community, including teens with disabilities. Librarian and advocate Renee Grassi will show how you can develop a comprehensive plan to welcome teens with disabilities at your library. In this workshop, attendees will learn about collections and technologies for teens with disabilities, innovative programs ideas, and suggestions for outreach and forging partnerships in the community. Participants will also learn how to develop best practices for building relationships with teens, working with caregivers, and inclusive customer service.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Renee Grassi to receive the Alexander J. Skrzypek Award

Renee Grassi
Renee Grassi, co-founder of SNAILS, friend, and mentor to many of our members, has been selected to receive the 2017 Alexander J. Skrzypek Award!

Presented by the Illinois Library Association and the Illinois State Library in honor of Alexander J. Skrzypek (1905-1976) -- the first librarian for the blind at the Chicago Public Library -- the award is given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of library services for the blind or physically disabled in Illinois.

We know first hand how Renee's work has impacted libraries and communities across the state of Illinois, so we nominated her for the award! Read ILA's press release to learn about Renee's award-winning efforts to make Illinois libraries more inclusive to children with disabilities.

Renee's word cloud
The Alexander J. Skrzypek Award Award will be presented to Renee at the Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday, October 10, during the 2017 Illinois Library Association Annual Conference in Tinley Park. If you are going to ILA this year, be sure to keep an eye out for Renee to congratulate her.

Renee will receive a certificate and have her name added to the plaque at the Illinois State Library. Even though she has moved to Minnesota, she will forever be a part of Illinois library history!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Get your ADA questions answered at our next SNAILS meeting!

Our summer meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 30 at Deerfield Public Library. Please plan to arrive close to 9:00am for morning treats and networking. Our business will begin promptly at 9:30am.

Robin Jones
This month, we have the privilege of hearing from Robin Jones, the Director of the Great Lakes ADA Center. Robin will be giving an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it relates to local government (i.e. public libraries). Her presentation is jam-packed with legal and practical information, so this is a great meeting for library staff at all service levels to attend.

In order to the make the presentation as relevant as possible, Robin would like to know what type of scenarios you experience when serving (or not being equipped to serve) people with disabilities. If you ever wanted to ask an ADA expert a question about legal requirements, best practices, or "what to do if..." this is your chance!

Even if you can't make it to the meeting, please share your experiences/questions in the comments below or email us using the form at the left.

We'll record Robin's presentation and post it on our SNAILS YouTube Channel so that everyone can learn from her talk. It's quite possible that her presentation will inspire you to change a library policy, implement a new service, or develop a new program!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Disability Pride Parade this weekend in Chicago

The 14th Annual Disability Pride Parade is this weekend, on Saturday, July 22! The Parade kicks off at 11:00am from 401 S. Plymouth Court (beside the Harold Washington Library Center), and then travels up Dearborn Street to the Daley Center where post-parade festivities take place beginning at 12:30pm.

According to the parade website, the overall mission of the Disability Pride Parade is:

To change the way people think about and define “disability;”
To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.

Wouldn't it be great if a group of SNAILS members could meet downtown and cheer for the parade participants?? If you'd like to show support as a spectator use the Contact Us form on the right side of the blog, and I'll work out the logistics for meeting in one place. If you can't attend the parade this Saturday don't worry -- you can still show your support by wearing green, orange, and purple ribbons this weekend!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Meet Julia, the first Sesame Street Muppet with autism

The Muppets of Sesame Street are getting a new friend for the first time in years! Julia, a red-headed four-year-old with big, green eyes, loves to sing and jump and happens to have autism.

Julia was first introduced digitally in 2015 as an illustrated character in an online storybook entitled "We're Amazing, 1,2,3!" (which can be viewed on the Sesame Street and Autism website or by downloading the app for iOS, or Android).

This year, during Autism Awareness Month, Julia will make her TV debut as a Muppet on Sesame Street! Tune into PBS Kids or HBO on Monday, April 10 to meet Julia and learn about autism. Muppeteer Stacey Gordon, who has a child with autism and used to work as therapist for kids on the spectrum, has the privilege of bringing Julia to life.

Learn more about Julia, Stacey Gordon, and the Sesame Street: See Amazing in All Children initiative by viewing this report from the Today Show.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 Targeting Autism Forum open for Registration

The Illinois State Library is currently accepting registrations for the third Targeting Autism Forum, to be held at the Illinois State Library, in Springfield, Illinois, on May 11-12, 2017.

The Illinois State Library was awarded two grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to help libraries better serve patrons and family members impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Phase I, Targeting Autism: A National Forum on Serving Library Patrons on the Spectrum received funding through an IMLS National Leadership Grant. Through two stakeholder forums, this phase of the project – was designed to explore how libraries can work with diverse community organizations and programs to increase their role in supporting patrons and family members impacted by ASD.

Phase II of the project, now underway – Targeting Autism: A Comprehensive Training and Education Program for Librarians is funded through an IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant to develop and deliver innovative, multi-faceted and replicable training programs designed to improve library services and programs for ASD communities in Illinois and the country.

Learn more about the 2017 forum, who will be speaking (Michael John Carley and Carrie Banks!), and how you can be one of 80 participants to benefit from this free, two-day training by reading Suzanne Schriar's post on the Targeting Autism blog.

Even if you can't attend the Forum, you can still participate in the learning process. All Forum sessions have been and will continue to be recorded for viewing on the Targeting Autism YouTube Channel.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Free Picture Communication Symbol Sources

Great news, everybody! If you've been wanting to make visual schedules and other supports for your inclusive programs but haven't been able to afford Boardmaker there is now a strong alternative.

Picto-Selector is a free visual support program for Windows and Mac users. It has 28,000 images translated into English, Dutch, German, French, Danish, Spanish, and Italian. Like Boardmaker, there are plenty of images to choose from, and you can customize the placement of the titles, the thickness and edges of the borders, and the background color.

I've just begun to play around with Picto-Selector, so I won't be presenting a full comparison and contrast, but, from a quick look, it does appear to have some advantages over Boardmaker.

  • Boardmaker is very expensive. Picto-Selector is free thanks to ads and user donations.
  • Multiple staff can simultaneously use Picto-Selector because a CD is not needed to run the program.
  • In addition to templates, there is also a Wizard option to help get you started.
  • The Favourite Picto button quickly accesses frequently used images.
  • Many preferences can be set ahead of time (e.g. title placement and rounded edges).
  • Quick and easy exports in multiple formats (e.g. jpgs, pdfs) as well as email and online sharing.

While it's true that children are probably more familiar with Boardmaker from school, I think Picto-Selector looks similar enough. Here's a quick comparison for a simple mini-storytime plan:


I have to say, in the above example, Boardmaker has the advantage on ethnic and gender diversity - there are usually multiple options for the same symbol. However, Picto-Selector is always adding new symbols and updating the software, so you don't run the risk of having to purchase an addendum library of symbols. And it's FREE, thanks to Dutch software developer Martjin van der Kooij.

Try it out! (Just don't be fooled by the green, download ad buttons.) Download the software from the blue text on the left of the download page.

On a side note, if you are working with teens or adults, you might want to give Noun Project a try. Their motto is "Icons for Everything!" and they don't disappoint. You can download everything in black and white for free.