In Beyond Sensory Storytime: Expanding Library Services to Children with Special Needs, Renee Grassi shared some great inclusive customer service strategies. These strategies include:
– Person First Language
Person First Language is words or phrases that that puts the person before the disability. For examples of First Person Language, visit www.disabilityisnatural.com.
– Adjust Your Mindset
Programs for people with disabilities will not look exactly like your usual program, and that’s okay.
– Be Patient and Allow Processing Time
Children with disabilities may have a hard time expressing what they need. By being patient and allowing processing time, we are giving them time to find a way to express themselves.
– Simple Questions and Offer Choices
Offer a choice board that features both text and pictures at the service desk so that nonverbal children (and adults!) can communicate.
– Make Accommodations
Is the program room too cluttered or too bright? Make accommodations to the best of your ability so that everyone can feel welcome.
– Offer Visual Supports
Use both text and picture supports for your program. Have the program plan written down with pictures. Remove the pictures as you complete the task. For example, for a storytime, have a picture of a book, then remove it when you finish the book.
– Assistive Technology
There’s a lot of great assistive technology that can be used in programs. For example, a Big Mac Button is a large, easy to press button that can be preloaded with a certain phrase. So if you’re reading Bark, George in storytime, you can preload the button with the phrase, “Bark, George” so that non-verbal children can participate.