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.