Monday, November 7, 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 didn’t owe it to me to educate me, but she was happy to do it, and I have learned so much from her over the past few months.  She suggested small steps we could take to better serve the deaf community – for instance as it turns out, YouTube’s automatic video captions are terrible. We’re working on transcribing our videos to improve the captions now. She suggested an American Sign Language (ASL) video tour of the library, incorporating sign language into story time, better resources for learning ASL, and staff training. In the grand scheme of things, all easy items to get and easy steps to implement.  We’re working across departments to get started on all of these suggestions right now. Simply asking Heather for ideas took away a lot of the stress I, and I’m sure many of us, were feeling. With Heather’s help, I felt like I had a road map of steps we could take to improve our services to the deaf community and the confidence that better service was easily achievable, plus some good logic for what to focus on.

You may not be lucky enough to have a “Heather,” but my biggest takeaway from this experience is “When in doubt, ask!” Of course, I don’t mean pester patrons with disabilities to provide education.  But there are online resources, organizations, and individuals who are more than happy to educate and advise, and it’s easy to reach out. I’ve used the strategy in the past with special education classes at the local high schools – by communicating with the teacher about what they need, I’ve been able to improve our resources and services for teens with disabilities in those classes and beyond, and am constantly finding new ways to be better. Even for groups as broad as “teens” – my specialty – asking for their input has vastly improved our services, and helped us zero in on the best ways to reach and serve that community.

In the end, the most valuable thing I learned working with Heather this summer was that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, or try to guess at a community’s needs. As it turns out, the simplest answer is usually to just…ask. When I have, I’ve gained confidence in the steps I have taken, since they come directly from the individuals and communities I am trying to serve, and found that often, the best ways of improving our services are simpler and easier than I had imagined. Now when I have questions about something or want to improve our services to any particular group, community, or demographic, the first thing I think about isn’t what to do or how to do it, but who to ask.

This guest blog post was written by Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian at Glen Ellyn Public Library. She can be reached at hrapp(at)gepl(dot)org.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

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 outreach to underserved populations through a new program or an expansion of work already being done. Applications are due December 1, 2016, and the winner of the award will be announced at ALA's Midwinter Meeting.

The Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) is also accepting nominations for achievement and recognition awards. Depending on the terms of the award, recipients need not necessarily be members of ASCLA. Nominations and supporting materials must be submitted by February 10, 2017. The awards will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 22-27, 2017.

ASCLA/Keystone Library Automation System (KLAS) National Organization on Disability (NOD) Award 
Awarded to a library organization that has provided services for people with disabilities. The award recognizes an innovative and well-organized project which successfully developed or expanded services for people with disabilities. The award can be for a specific service(s) program or for a library that has made their total services more accessible through changing physical and/or attitudinal barriers. $1,000 and a citation. Sponsored by Keystone Systems, Inc.

Francis Joseph Campbell Award
Awarded to a person or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of library service for the blind and physically handicapped. This contribution may take the form of an imaginative and constructive program in a particular library; a recognized contribution to the national library program for blind persons; creative participation in library associations or organizations that advance reading for the blind; a significant publication or writing in the field; imaginative contribution to library administration, reference, circulation, selection, acquisitions, or technical services; or any activity of recognized importance. A medal and a citation.

ASCLA Exceptional Service Award
To recognize exceptional service to patients, to the home bound, to people of all ages who live in group homes or residences, and to inmates, as well as to recognize professional leadership, effective interpretation of programs, pioneering activity, and significant research of experimental projects. A citation.

Good luck on your nominations!

Monday, October 3, 2016

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, Youth Services Early Literacy Coordinator at Glenview (Il.) Public Library. We are always inspired by Silvia's creative programming for kid with disabilities. Silvia can be reached at swalker[at]glenviewpl[dot]org.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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 panel of librarians from Ela Public Library, Gail Borden Library, and the American Library Association's Alzheimer's and Related Demetias Interest Group. Learn about Ela's 20 year success at providing a "Read-a-Loud" program to a skilled nursing center using poetry, stories, a therapy dog and more. Hear about Gail Borden Library’s "Tales and Travel," an innovative hands-on book and reading program that has been successfully implemented at memory care facilities. 

Creating an "Autism-Friendly" Library to Support Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Wednesday, October 19 at 2 pm
Have you wondered how to make library services and programs more accessible to persons with autism spectrum disorder? Come to this training session to learn how! This interactive session will review current information and research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), identify characteristics commonly associated with the disorder, and share strategies to support persons with autism in a library setting. Strategies reviewed include ideas for environmental adaptations (e.g., adapted lighting options, designation of quiet spaces, etc.), visual supports (e.g., information, directions, schedule, communication cards, etc.) and program modifications (e.g., structure of program/activities, sensory supports, visual supports, transitions, etc.).

Special Needs/Special Programs: Engaging Children and Adults with Special Needs
Thursday, October 20 at 11:15 am
Ever wonder what programs you can provide for patrons with special needs? Not sure where to begin? Hear how we started story times, movie matinees, and SMILE (Special Monday in the Library Event) at the Warren-Newport Public Library, and how you can get started serving this special population. You will take away resources, programming ideas, and the confidence that you can provide programs for individuals with special needs at your library.

Functionally Diverse in the Library
Thursday, October 20 at 3:15 pmFrom the grandmother with the failing eyesight to the child overwhelmed by the children's play area to the student struggling to read, all of these people have one thing in common: a hidden disability. The focus of this session is to discuss disability, hidden and not, and how the library can better reach out to and assist this often ignored population.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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 accommodations for individuals with special needs, but instead on creating products, services, programs and more that are inherently inclusive. 

Since the initial development of Universal Design, it has been applied in a variety of settings, including in the field of education through the concept of Universal Design for Learning. Both of these concepts have applications in library settings. Whether you are planning new spaces in your library, developing inclusive services, or defining the learning goals of your programs, the principles of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning can provide a helpful structure to your design efforts. Though it is important to acknowledge that Universal Design rarely achieves its goal of making end products that are equally usable for every possible user, the techniques and concepts associated with it can help to make libraries more inclusive.

My slides and handout lay out the main principles of both Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. They also offer suggested readings that describe how to apply these concepts to several different aspects of librarianship, including children’s services and makerspaces. 

If you are interested in learning more about both accessibility and Universal Design, there is still time to sign up for my Introduction to Accessibility and Universal Design in Libraries course through Library Juice Academy or you can contact me on Twitter @CarliSpina.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

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 via email to:
Applications and budget sheets (and any additional supporting documentation) should be submitted as attachments on the forms provided for download below.

The grant funding period is April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. The winner(s) will be notified by March 1, 2017.

Criteria for Selection
Applications will be judged on the basis of:
1. The project is clearly described and well thought out.
2. The potential impact is significant.
3. There is institutional support for the program or service
4. People with autism, family members or other community stakeholders are involved in the development and/or implementation of the project.
5. The program is one that would be replicable in other communities.
6. The program or service is based on an understanding of the needs of people with autism and/or best practices in working with this population.
7. There is a plan for the continuation of the service or program after the grant year.
8. The project would not be possible without outside funding.

Please direct any questions to Barbara Klipper:

This grant honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected co-founder Meg Kolaya for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries and the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to the library community.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

#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 resource to the library community. in Kidlit is dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. As explained on their website, this team of authors publishes articles, reviews, interviews, and discussions examining this topic from various angles—and always from the disabled perspective. One of their main goals is to help readers, booksellers, librarians, and educators find good portrayals of disability in literature, specifically YA and Middle Grade novels.  They do that by discussing books via reviews and articles written by those who self identify as disabled. may have seen the recent "Perspectives of Authors with Disabilities" series (parts one and two) published on the We Need Diverse Books website.  What makes Disability in Kidlit crucial to the We Need Diverse Books conversation? They believe that a thoughtful portrayal of disability requires more than memorizing a list of symptoms.  They want to share disabled people’s thoughts on stereotypes, pet peeves, portrayals, and their own day-to-day experiences.  And by doing so, they aim to help readers learn about the realities of disability.  We Need Diverse Books helps to promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people, and in my eyes, Disability in Kidlit does just that by promoting authenticity, accuracy, and respect.

So often we hear that books should be both windows and mirrors expanding and reflecting our unique experiences through literature.  By starting dialogue and encouraging conversation, Disability in Kidlit wants to ensure that books mirror back an accurate, respectful, and honorable portrayal of characters with disabilities.  The truth is that this can be a difficult conversation for librarians to have.  But as Duyvis says in her article, "The more people genuinely listen to multiple opinions instead of becoming defensive, the more they will understand the underlying roots of the criticism."  So, let us listen, be conscious, and encourage deep and meaningful conversation.  Only then can we hope to connect, respect, and learn to understand each other. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

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

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, improving the accessibility of online media content, and making your library more inviting and inclusive for individuals with disabilities, with a particular focus on free tools. The class will primarily cover online accessibility, but will also devote time to how these principles can be applied to physical spaces within your library. Participants who are currently working in libraries will leave the course with documents and resources that they can take back to their workplace.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
  • Define accessibility and universal design
  • Integrate accessibility and universal design into workflows at their libraries
  • Evaluate and improve online accessibility
  • Identify tools that can be used for testing website accessibility
  • Write an accessibility policy

For more information about this course, click here.

Carli Spina
Carli Spina is the Emerging Technologies and Research Librarian at the Harvard Law School Library. Carli holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, an MLIS from Simmons GSLIS, and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 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 also served as the leader of the ASCLA Library Services to People with Visual or Physical Disabilities that Prevent Them from Reading Standard Print Interest Group. 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 or connect with her on Twitter at @CarliSpina.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

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
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 meaningful captions. 

This four-week course will introduce some free tools that can be used to compose and synchronize captions for instructional videos. Planning and script preparation will also be explored. Participants will be expected to prepare at least one video with captioning.

Interested in registering? Click here for online registration!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

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 Experience Intersectional Identities
Saturday, June 25 at 1 pm
Orange County Convention Center, Room W101A
Join award winning author Padma Venkatraman and others to discuss portraying people who are twice diverse. What is they experience of an Indian dancer who is an amputee? How does one write about a gay Latina? How are these experiences similar to others? How are they unique? Join us as we expand the diversity umbrella.

Public Librarians Serving Those on the Autism Spectrum: Practical Solutions Resulting from Online Training
Sunday, June 26 at 10:30 am
Orange County Convention Center, Room S330 C-D
Project PALS, an IMLS funded collaboration between autism experts and librarians, created four online training modules to teach librarians about how to best provide services for patrons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These trainings are now available on Webjunction, and initial data reveals how librarians who have taken the modules plan to implement recommendations into their libraries to best serve members of this population. Presenters will discuss practical solutions for public libraries to implement in their own locations, as well as the most popular suggestions for implementation as chosen by librarians and library staff who have taken the full trainings.

Bridging Deaf Cultures & Guidelines for Library and Information Services for Deaf Americans
Sunday, June 26 at 1 pm
Orange County Convention Center, Room W202B
Complete the Guidelines and discuss a proposed Resolution on the Creation of a Deaf Culture Digital Library under the auspices of the Library of Congress.

Reaching Out to Adults with Special Needs Through Art, Science, and Literacy
Sunday, June 26 at 3 pm
Orange County Convention Center, Room S320 E-F
This program will focus on techniques used to engage groups of special needs adults. It will cover outreach efforts and steps to take when collaborating with day schools that assist this user group. The program will cover how the relationship between numerous local day training schools and the New Port Richey Public Library has developed and how library use for this user group has evolved during the course of the past 2 years.

Don't Get Sued: What Librarians Are Doing to Address the Physical, Programmatic and Web-based Accessibility Barriers for People with Disabilities
Sunday, June 26 at 4:30 pm
Orange County Convention Center, Room W105B
This program will be a panel of librarians who implement their library’s accessibility policies. The panel will offer insights into what librarians are doing to address the everyday needs of employees and patrons with disabilities in the library as well as the accessibility of the library’s online presence.

Signage in Your Library - Tips for Success
Monday, June 27 at 8:30 am
Orange County Convention Center, Room W209 B
No amount of signage can adequately compensate for a poorly designed series of library spaces but well-designed and effective signage can absolutely strengthen library user satisfaction and function. Join us to look at highly successful solutions and learn tips for implementing signage packages of all sizes that really work and see new ready-made systems that make solutions easier than ever before.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

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 employers structure their paid leave and related policies to comply with the ADA?
  • Can an employer maintain an “automatic termination” policy that sets a specific end date upon which an employee is terminated when they cannot return to work?
  • At what point is an employer required to reassign an employee to another position as a reasonable accommodation?
  • How many extensions of leave must an employer provide before it can permanently fill an employee’s position or terminate employment?

To register online for this free online learning opportunity, click here.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

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 opening hours and required additional logistics, such as the involvement of staff working outside of their regular hours, I wrote up a proposal for the program seeking approval from our director to offer the program.  Needless to say, our director enthusiastically supported this pilot program.     

I worked with one of our Teen Librarians and an Information Services Librarian with a specialization in health services; we wanted to consider a wide developmental and abilities spectrum when making our program plans.   At our planning meeting we addressed considerations such as outreach, logistics, and any additional engagement activities.    

For outreach and marketing, we composed a special invitational letter to community organizations that serve youth and families with disabilities.  We additionally talked up the program at other programs serving families with disabilities.  We got quite a few registrants that way.  The program was also publicized in our newsletter and on our programming calendar. 

With regards to program logistics, we worked with our security and maintenance staff to create a plan of which doors would be available for entry, as well as how to create a welcome and accessible space.  The main areas of the library available for program attendees were our children’s department, which housed the play exhibit, and then our Teen space as a designated quiet space.  We did not provide access to the rest of the library and provided signage to convey which areas were closed.  We requested a circulation staff member to assist with any customers that wanted to check out any materials including materials we pulled such as adaptive books or toys; we lucked out in having a staff member volunteer who is also fluent in ASL! 

We decided for program registration, it made the most sense to have one person take registration information over the phone, so they could communicate about entry procedures, find out about any requested accommodations, etc.   We promoted the program with the following blurb:  

Hear ye, hear ye! People with special needs and their families are invited to explore the play exhibit "Once Upon a Time…Exploring the World of Fairy Tales" at a special time and in an intimate, quiet setting before the library opens. A quiet room outside the exhibit will be available as well for customers.  

Please register by calling (847) xxx-xxxx. Please let the library know if your party requires any special accommodations. 

I sent out an email a few days ahead of time with roles and stations for all staff helping out.  We ended up having 13 people register.  Unfortunately, none of the community groups we contacted were able to attend. 

The result?   
Even with all of our ducks in a row, we had several factors that ended up influencing lower attendance for the programOne consideration is the day of the week; Sunday mornings are often busy with families attending houses of worship or having lazy mornings.  Another more considerable consideration for families with young children was that this particular Sunday also coincided with Daylight Savings!  We learned our lesson to always double-check our dates to avoid possible conflicts such as this in the future.  Once we realized the event date and time would be impacted by Daylight Savings, staff made sure to convey that information in our program reminder calls to all persons registered for the event.   

We had four customers attend; they enjoyed having the exhibit to themselves to explore at their own pace, in their own way.   Although it was a smaller number, the families were so appreciative of being able to relax, chat with one another and be carefree in a safe and supportive environment.  Two of the caregivers expressed how the noise levels of the play exhibit were usually overwhelming for their child; they were so happy to have a toned-down time for play! The children had fun with the exhibit itself and also enjoyed doing the play engagement activity planned by our Tween librarian as part of our Play Engagement experience for the exhibit.  We chose to offer a sensory activity involving fine motor skills and exploring various textures.   

All in all, I think it was a successful program offering that provided an inclusive play experience for families of all abilities.   Even though not all registered families were able to attend, we received many positive comments from families and the community organizations we approached about how grateful they were that the library was considering their needs and the needs of those they serve by offering this unique opportunity for play, learning, and exploration.    We feel this event and other recent inclusive library program offerings have raised awareness among our customers and the community that the library is a welcoming place and is committed to hosting inclusive programs to better serve our customers of all abilities.   

Saturday, May 14, 2016

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 stuck out to me the most.

After Melissa’s presentation, the representatives from each member library introduced themselves, and then we talked about things that are working in our communities and asked for help/suggestions as needed.

I enjoyed being at this meeting, getting to see the staff from other libraries and the opportunity to learn from each other. Welcoming/including/enjoying the people who have special needs in our communities is a wonderful thing!

This post was written by SNAILS member Anne Wilson of Mount Prospect Public Library.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

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 Machines
  • Portable Magnifiers
  • Talking Clocks and Watches
  • New Sunwear
  • Independent Living Aids
  • Kitchen 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, visually impaired, disabled and Veteran communities with comprehensive vision care and support services. If you work at a library and are considering purchasing assistive technologies to support your patrons' needs, remember that The Chicago Lighthouse provides discounts to libraries who make these purchases through their organization!

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!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

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!

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 experiences
  • Identify the child's sensory needs
  • Explore ways to help the child desensitize to community experiences
  • Teach caregivers how to assess the environment using a sensory approach
  • Create and use visual language to aid with expectations
  • Determine what supports should be placed within the community