Thursday, September 28, 2017

Diversability programs at the 2017 Illinois Library Association Conference

It's officially fall, and that means it's time for sharing and learning at the annual Illinois Library Association Conference! If you are registered for Rise Up! October 10-12 in Tinley Park, aim to attend these sessions focused on serving young people with disabilities.

ILA Conference logo


Assisting People with Disabilities, 1:30-2:30pm (JJ Pionke, UIUC)
This session will highlight some of the work that has been going on at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in terms of reaching out to and assisting people with disabilities (physical, mental, sensory). This session will also include a practical discussion for empowering libraries to go beyond American with Disabilities Act compliance including walking your building, using User Experience techniques, and refining services.

Be an Advocate: Create Volunteer Opportunities for Young Adults with Disabilities, 2:45-3:45pm (Dawn Wlezien, Skokie Public Library)
Our message to people with disabilities is that the library is a place of lifelong learning and discovery for people of all abilities, and that our library is not complete without their participation. The library's goal is to provide volunteer opportunities that bring differently abled residents together for discovery, enrichment, and the exchange of ideas. If you want to find out more on how to develop, shape, and implement a progressive volunteer program for young adults with disabilities, this session is for you.


Diversity and Diversability: Developing Programming for All, 10:15-11:15am (Greg Diaz, Patrice Johnson, and Evelyn Keolian, Chicago Public Library)
Diversity programming, from culturally based focuses to inclusive events for those experiencing disabilities, is a key tool in building connections within and across communities. It is also one of the best methods librarians have to increase their own awareness of and empathy for the communities they serve. This session will discuss the importance and value of diversity programming, as well as the impact it can have on both communities and library staff. Practical strategies for developing such programming will also be explored.

Diversity in Illinois Libraries Discussion Group, 1:45-2:45pm
Join others in a discussion about diversity in the Illinois library community. Participants will be given the opportunity to talk about traditionally underrepresented groups within the library profession, and share ideas to help libraries improve the way we recruit and retain diverse staff. Facilitated by the Diversity Task Force.


POSTER SESSION: Literacy Resources for Serving Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 12:00-1:30pm (Beth Paoli, Illinois State Library)
Two programs of the Illinois State Library (ISL), Targeting Autism and the Literacy office, have collaborated to develop resources for libraries to better serve individuals and families impacted by autism spectrum disorder. As a result of this collaboration, an autism friendly adaptation section has been added to every Adult New Reader Book Club and Family Literacy Story Kit facilitators guide. The adaptation section offers suggestions on communication tips, visual guides and programming ideas for libraries to make learning experiences more inclusive and comfortable for those on the autism spectrum. In addition, three new titles featuring characters with autism spectrum disorder have been added to the collections. This poster session will introduce these autism friendly resources and encourage Illinois libraries to borrow these items from the ISL.

POSTER SESSION: Library Guides on Disabilities: Building a Robust Resource for All, 12:00-1:30 (JJ Pionke, UIUC)
This poster discusses the creation of over 20 LibGuides that focus on disabilities, disability theory, and assistive technology. Accessibility will be highlighted as well as critical response to the guides. This project was generously funded by an American Library Association Carnegie Whitney Grant.

For more sessions on serving diverse population groups, select the Diversity and Special Populations track on the Conference Programs website.

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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Webinar: Creating Welcoming and Accessible Libraries for Children with Disabilities

Yes, it is true that our fearless leader has left Illinois for Minnesota, but that doesn't mean she is out of reach. On the contrary...

Renee Grassi will be presenting a free webinar called Creating Welcoming and Accessible Libraries for Children with Disabilities on Wednesday, April 12, 10:00-11:00am CST for Minitex, an information and resource sharing program of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Big or small, rural or urban--all public libraries serve children with disabilities in their communities. Librarian and advocate Renee Grassi will show how your library can develop an awareness and an enhanced spirit of inclusion to children with disabilities and their needs for library service. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to perform a community needs assessment and advocate for families, forge new partnerships with other agencies and organizations, and find new and innovative children’s programming and outreach ideas. Participants will also learn about accessible customer service and different approaches to re-evaluate existing children’s programs to attract a more inclusive audience.

Renee is always updating her presentations so there will be something for everyone to learn. Why not invite a coworker, community partner, or patron to view the webinar with you? Just be sure to register online before space runs out. Did I mention it's free?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sign your library up to participate in National Disability Voter Registration Week!

EveryLibrary has announced a new partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to bring National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) 2017 to libraries across the country. NDVRW 2017 takes place July 17-21 and is AAPD's second annual program to make voter registration services for people with disabilities easier and more pervasive. Your library can sign on to to participate through programming, outreach, public education, and voter registration partnerships or on-site services this summer by adding your library to this list on the EveryLibrary Action site. All partner libraries that include their business address will receive a free digital resource kit to promote NDVRW 2017 in their communities.

Make the Disability Vote CountAccording to their website, "EveryLibrary is joining NDVRW 2017 to bring libraries across the country into this new partnership to reach all Americans who are eligible to vote. NDVRW supports voter enfranchisement and registering to vote while highlighting issues like accessible ballots, accessible polling places, and policy issues affecting disability communities. AAPD's REV UP Campaign coordinates NDVRW each year to increase the political power of people with disabilities while also engaging candidates and the media to recognize the disability community."

Sign up as a participating library today!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Continuing Education Opportunity March 2017

The American Library Association is offering a two-part workshop, Serving Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, on Wednesdays, March 15 and March 22, 2017. Each 90 minute session will begin at 1:30pm CST.

Dr. Lesley Farmer will cover the basics of autism, including forms the condition takes and how diagnosed children can be unique.

Topics include:
  • Identifying/understanding youth with ASD and their developmental challenges
  • Providing a comfortable library environment  for youth with ASD
  • Strategies for successful one-on-one interaction
  • Print and digital resources available to librarians

Register online through the ALA Store.  

Hope to see you February 8 for our next SNAILS gathering!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Special Needs/Special Programming: Engaging Children & Adults with Special Needs

What if I told you that some of the most amazing people who visit our libraries are also the most underserved patrons? Warren-Newport Public Library is trying to change that by developing programs for children and adults with special needs.

On October 19, 2016 Adult Services Librarian Amy Longwell and I presented a session entitled "Special Needs/Special Programming: Engaging Children & Adults with Special Needs" at the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference. Here are highlights of our presentation:

Librarians at Warren-Newport Public Library have developed and presented programs for children and adults with special needs. Programs for children and their families include sensory storytimes, sensory playtimes and sensory movie matinees. These are welcoming and sensory inviting programs that engage children with music, stories, STEAM activities, crafts, movies and more. Special Mondays in the Library (SMILE) is for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities. This program has a passive-active-passive approach. Some active parts include mini golf and ball toss. Passive activities include crafts, snacks and other sitting activities. We always provide agendas for our attendees so they know the schedule of activities and when the next program will be.

Things kept in mind while planning these programs include the importance of having good volunteers, simple crafts, and schedules or routines that the patrons can rely on. Most importantly, be welcoming, flexible, understanding and have fun.

Are you hoping to provide great programs to the patrons with special needs in your community and need some help? Some great resources at your fingertips are: local school districts, your local special education districts, Pinterest, teacher and homeschool craft sites and, of course SNAILS.

This guest post was written by Jane Friess, Youth Services Librarian/School Liaison, of Warren-Newport Public Library. Jane can be reached at jfreiss(at)wnpl(dot)info. Thank you for sharing your experience and passion with us, Jane!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Continuing Education Opportunities

Is one of your new year resolutions is to learn something new? Then here are some opportunities for you!

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

In this asynchronous, 6-week eCourse offered by the American Library Association beginning January 23, 2017, librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. Ideal for those without previous experience.

Visit the ALA Store to learn more about cost, content, and how to register.

Creating Inclusive Storytimes for All Children

ALA is also offering a 90-minute inclusive storytime workshop Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm CST. Child development expert Carol Morrone will tie child development into storytelling, offering insight on working with children with special needs, including children affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and intellectual challenges. This workshop will provide tools needed to build inclusive story hours that apply solid child development theory into practice.

Visit the ALA Store to learn more about cost, content, and how to register.

Do you have additional continuing education opportunities to share with our SNAILS community? Send an email to Ginny Sieck at gsieck(at)gpld(dot)org and I will post it here.

Happy New Year!

Our next SNAILS meeting is coming up February 8, 2017.