Showing posts from 2016

All You Have to Do is Ask

Every now and then at the reference desk, I end an interaction feeling frustrated that I have not provided the level of service I want for our member. The feeling is familiar to any librarian, I’m sure, and there are a variety of reasons for it. But one I notice consistently is that I find myself unprepared or unsure when talking to a member who is deaf, or who has a disability that makes it hard to communicate, or whose needs I know I am not filling. Even when the end result is sending the person away with the item or help they came for, I always end up wishing I had found a way to do better, but unsure how.

Well, it seems I may have been overthinking things. As it turns out, perhaps all I had to do was ask.

Over the summer, I was fortunate to have a dynamic group high school volunteers, including one teen who is deaf.  “Heather” was passionate, engaged, and full of ideas. And she was excited and enthusiastic about helping the library improve our services to the deaf community. She d…

Tis the Season for Award and Grant Applications

I love fall for the same reasons most people do -- cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and the chance to wear cute boots! Each fall, I also look forward to National Library Card Sign-up Month, the Illinois Library Association Conference, and the opportunity to expand and celebrate, through professional grants and awards, the services libraries and librarians provide to their communities. If you have a program idea that needs funding or you want to recognize someone for outstanding service to people with disabilities be sure to apply for one of the following grants or awards.

The ALSC Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee is accepting applications for the ALSC/Candlewick Press "Light the Way: Outreach to the Underserved" Grant which was formed in honor of Newbery Medalist and Geisel Honoree author Kate DiCamillo and the themes represented in her books. The award consists of a $3,000 grant to assist a library in conducting exemplary ou…

Sound, Frequency and Sensory Fun at Glenview Public Library

The Glenview Public Library hosted a wonderful Friendship Club event for special needs kids and typical kids seeking friendship (grades 3-8) and their peer volunteer buddies (Friendship Ambassadors grades 4-12). We invited musician and sound healer Preston Klik to conduct a session called Sound, Frequency and Sensory Fun. He brought his large gong, a variety of singing bowls and bells, crystal bowls, drums, rattles, and other instruments from around the world. After explaining and passing around his instruments, he conducted a sound meditation.

The kids reclined on the floor and lights went off. A DVD with kaleidoscopic images played on the large screen while Preston took us on a meditative journey via sound and vibration. Everyone enjoyed this unique and relaxing experience, even a child with autism laid back and settled down for a time. Trying the instruments was neat, and we had sensory boards available for fidgety hands.

This post was written by SNAILS member Silvia Kraft-Walker, Yo…

Talking about Accessibility at the ILA Annual Conference

It's that time of year when members of the Illinois Library Association convene to network with colleagues, discover innovative strategies to apply to librarianship, and learn about new resources on the exhibit floor! For those of you traveling to Rosemont for the 2016 ILA Annual Conference, you might be interested in the following meetings and sessions focused on topics of accessibility and serving people with disabilities in libraries.  For more information about other programs and sessions at this conference, consult the Conference Schedule available here.

Becoming a Dementia-Friendly Library: Serving Patrons with Dementia
Tuesday, October 18 at 10:45 am
Libraries can be a vital part of the Dementia Friendly America initiative that is sweeping the nation. Find out how Illinois libraries are already engaging people with dementia. Our presentation will include a brief overview on dementia, presented by the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter.  It will also include a pan…

Universal Design & Libraries

This guest blog post is written by Carli Spina, Head Librarian for Assessment and Outreach at Boston College Libraries. She has extensive experience working on web design and technology projects as well as serving as a coordinator for services to patrons with disabilities. She has taught classes and workshops for librarians, academic staff, and students on a range of topics, including accessibility and web design. Visit Carli's website at

Last month, I had the opportunity to talk to the SNAILS Group about Universal Design and how it can be applied to library spaces, programs, and services. Universal Design, a term coined by Ronald Mace, refers to design processes that take into account the needs of all potential users, including those with disabilities, elderly people, individuals who do not speak the dominant local language, and more. It goes beyond typical approaches to accessibility because it is not focused on minimum legal standards or separate accom…

Autism Welcome Here Grant: Now Accepting Applications!

Application deadline for 2017 Grant: December 1, 2017

Grant Description
Each year, a total of $5,000.00 will be awarded. Depending on the applications received, one grant for the full amount or multiple grants for smaller amounts totaling $5,000.00 may be awarded.

Any type of library can apply and the proposal can fund projects and services for any age group. Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service, bring an already-existing, successful program or service to their library for the first time, or enhance a program or service they already offer. All programs or services proposed must benefit people with autism or their families, directly or indirectly. Funds may be used to hire a trainer to present a workshop, to buy program materials, to pay for staff, etc.



Applications, budget sheets, institutional letters of support and any other supporting documentation must be submitted …

#WeNeedDiverseBooks and Reading about Disability

Last month, I read an incredible article by Corinne Duyvis entitled Navigating Criticism and Discussions of Disability Representation from the Disability in Kidlit Blog.  Some of Duyvis' other articles I have found equally insightful include Disability Metaphors in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Happy Endings and Overcoming Autism, and The State of Disability on Book Covers.  I have also found this interview with her particularly compelling. I keep going back to her posts because they are insightful, well-written, and challenge me to reflect upon disability representation in ways I perhaps would not--and in many ways, cannot--consider as someone who does not self-identify as disabled.  In our current library landscape where #WeNeedDiverseBooks is more than just a hashtag, it is increasingly important for librarians to advocate and champion diversity in representation in children's and young adult literature.  This is why the Disability in Kidlit Blog is such an invaluable resour…

NEW Online Course: Intro to Accessibility and Universal Design in Libraries

Instructor: Carli Spina
Dates: September 5-30, 2016 Credits: 1.5 CEUs Price: $175 Register for this course
Approximately 15% of the population worldwide live with some type of disability, making individuals with disabilities an important and often underserved constituency for libraries. Despite this, many libraries overlook simple and affordable measures that could improve their accessibility.

In this course, you will learn concrete techniques for improving your library’s accessibility for individuals with a wide range of disabilities. You will learn the meaning of accessibility and universal design and how these apply in a library setting through a combination of readings, hands-on exercises, online discussions, and demonstration videos. Students who complete the assignments will have concrete ideas for integrating accessibility and universal design principles into library workflows.

This four-week course will cover techniques and tools for testing website accessibility, i…

NEW ASCLA Online Course: Captioning Instructional Videos

Hosted by ASCLA (Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies)
Instructor: Kate Todd Dates: August 1 through August 28, 2016 Cost: $100 for student and retired members; $130 for ASCLA members; $175 for ALA members; $210 for non-ALA members Click here to register Who should attend? Library staff in schools, public, college or special libraries would benefit from this course.  Staff at all levels, including librarians, support staff and IT staff would be able to apply their learning to work assignments. 
Why Closed Captioning? By Kate Todd Library staff have found short instructional videos to be an effective way to help readers use resources, even when the library is closed. However, patrons who are deaf or those with hearing loss cannot get the full benefit unless the videos have captions. Unfortunately, technology has not provided a flawless solution. Speech recognition is still an imperfect tool. Planning and attention to detail are needed to create useful and mea…

Accessibility and Inclusion Programs at 2016 ALA Annual Conference

If you are headed to Orlando this month and are interested in learning about accessibility, inclusion, and serving people with disabilities, check out the list of ALA Conference programs below!

Saturday, June 25 at 10:30 am
Rosen Centre, Room Salon 01/02
ASCLA is a small but mighty division! With more than 800 members national and worldwide, ASCLA is home to library consultants, and those that work in state, public, government, prison, and special libraries and cooperatives. Come meet some of our members and hear what they have to say about ASCLA and our diverse Interest Groups and volunteer opportunities.

Universal Accessibility Interest Group Meeting
Saturday, June 25 at 1 pm
Orange County Convention Center, Room W309
Joint ACRL / ASCLA / LITA working group where members work together on projects related to making all kinds of libraries and library services accessible for users with disabilities.

We Need Diverse Books and More: Multiple Diversities Capturing the Expe…

FREE Webinar opportunity on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Title: "Leave as an ADA Reasonable Accommodation" Webinar on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
When: Thursday, June 23, 2016 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m. CDT)
Online Registration: Click here

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is offering a free webinar on "EEOC's New Resource on Leave as an ADA Reasonable Accommodation" on Thursday, June 23 from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. The webinar will provide information on staying compliant with the ADA and related laws.

For those in middle and upper management, this webinar will provide helpful information concerning ADA.  The webinar will provide employers much-needed technical assistance for staying compliant with the ADA and related laws. Topics to be covered include:
At what point must an employer consider leave as a reasonable accommodation?What information can an employer obtain from an employee’s health care provider to support a request for leave? How often can an employer request this information?How should empl…

Early Open for Families with Special Needs: Explore the Fairy Tale Exhibit!

This post was written by Maria Papanastassiou, Early Literacy Services Supervisor at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Arlington Heights, IL. For more information about the Arlington Heights Memorial Library's services to families with children with disabilities, check out their Special Child webpage

Our library was fortunate enough to host a very successful Fairy Tale play exhibit for over two months this past winter.  Crowds of children and their caregivers enjoyed playing with the interactive exhibit pieces from open to close daily.  Due to the high customer traffic and noise levels each day, we wanted to offer an alternative time for exhibit exploration for families with members with special needs.  Our library is open daily at 9 am with the exception of Sundays when we open at noon; we chose a Sunday morning early opening time of 10:30 am to accommodate this program.  
How did we get this program off the ground?  Because the program was occurring before library openin…

Spring 2016 Meeting Recap: Child's Voice

At our spring meeting at Mount Prospect Public Library on May 11, 2016, we got to hear from Melissa Lundt, the Special Services Coordinator from Child’s Voice.

Child’s Voice was started by parents in 1996 as a way to empower their children who have hearing loss to learn and be successful. There are different programs: Early Intervention, a school program, and a transition program (the school program takes children up to 8 years old).

Melissa explained to us how hearing loss happens, what the staff at Child’s Voice do, and the technology that is available to people with hearing loss. What was of most interest to us in public libraries is how we can serve people with hearing loss best.

What we at public libraries can do:
1.Face the person when communicating with them.
2.Find out their name and use it.
3.Use visual aids.
4.Repeat important words and phrases.
5.Provide clear rules and expectations.
6.Talk naturally.

This was just a sample of what we learned, but these are the ones that st…

FREE DEMO! The Chicago Lighthouse's Low Vision Products Show

The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired 
Free Demonstration Day
Admission Cost: FREE!
Date: Tuesday, May 17
Time: 10 am - 3 pm
Location: Chicago Lighthouse North
222 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL 60025

The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired is hosting a free demonstration day!  Don't miss this chance to see innovative products and enjoy a hands-on experience with the latest in adaptive devices.  You will get a chance to see and interact with a variety of technologies, including:
New CCTV Reading MachinesPortable Magnifiers Talking Clocks and WatchesNew SunwearIndependent Living AidsKitchen Products...and much more!
Their technology specialists will even be there to answer questions and work one-on-one to determine the best products for you or your organization.  Click here to get a preview of the products that will be at this event. 

The Chicago Lighthouse is a world-renowned social service organization serving the blind, vi…

Activate! A Sensory Approach to Storytime

Our very own SNAILS group members Renee Grassi from Glen Ellyn Public Library and Sue Parsons from Plainfield Public Library presented an engaging program at the 2016 Reaching Forward Conference. This annual conference, hosted by Illinois Library Association, is a premier day of learning designed for library support staff. An audience of 40+ attentively learned a combination of theory and practice.

Click here to download Sue's Sensory Storytime Favorites handout, which includes themes, books, songs, albums, and activities she has used in her program.  And don't miss this extremely useful resource list of articles, books, and websites on the topic of serving children with disabilities.

If you're as captivated by Sue's approach as we are, don't miss her demo of Sensory Storytime from one of our previous SNAILS meetings.  You can find the video here!

What are some of your favorite resources for Sensory Storytime? Share them below in the comments!!

Autism in the Community webinar

This looks like a promising webinar, even if it's geared towards educators/clinicians. Registrants are sent a link to the archive, so if you can't view it live be sure to register!
Autism in the Community: A Desensitization Approach Wednesday, May 18 at 10 a.m. Central Time Hosted by
Many children with autism have atypical sensory behaviors, which may negatively impact their participation in the community. Research indicates that using a desensitization approach, which emphasizes the child's needs while creating a positive and structured experience, can significantly improve community participation.
Join this webinar and learn how to: Identify challenges encountered by families of children with autism, when participating in common community experiencesIdentify the child's sensory needsExplore ways to help the child desensitize to community experiencesTeach caregivers how to assess the environment using a sensory approachCreate and use visual language to aid with e…