Blogger Renee Grassi

Community Assessment for Inclusive Library Services

Leveraging partnerships is essential to supporting the development and growth of new programs and services for children with disabilities. One of the best things you can do when serving an undeserved population like families with children with disabilities is to collaborate with other local organizations to gather community feedback about people’s perceptions and experiences of your library. Whether you decide to take a more formal or an informal approach in gathering information, performing a comprehensive community assessment is a necessary first step in growing this area of service.  Assessing your community helps identify opportunities and gaps in service for different age groups. It can help you learn about what types of programs your library could be offering to families with children with disabilities.  This process can also help you determine what the best and most accessible mode of communication is for families, or identify areas for improvement in your library’s…

Blogger Renee Grassi

ALSC Community Forum: Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities

          ALSC Community Forum January 10, 2018 @ 3PM (Central) Topic: Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities Jason Driver, Renee Grassi, Eva Thaler-Sroussi, and ALSC President Nina Lindsay will be hosting an ALSC Community Forum live chat on the topic of Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities.  This forum will include a live text discussion with the opportunity to ask questions to our presenters. In the past 5 years alone, the topic of inclusion, accessibility, and youth librarianship has moved forward in positive and innovative ways. This discussion will focus on tangible practices for inclusion of children of all abilities in library spaces and services.  What can we do to make our youth departments, our branches, or our libraries more welcoming to children and their families?  What have we learned from our successes and our failures in programs and services?…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Rethinking Summer Library Programs….in November

Summer 2017 may be over, but Summer 2018 planning has only just begun…we know it to be true!  Our Summer Library Programs may be just 10 weeks out of the year, but program planning is perennial.  We design our summer library programs to be engaging and impactful, and we care deeply that the kids in our communities have a positive experience.  But let’s face it–it takes time to do that effectively. So, earlier this month, 60 passionate Youth Librarians in Wisconsin got a jump-start on rethinking their summer library programs.  And it was at their annual YS workshop where I had the pleasure of facilitating a lively discussion about accessibility and inclusion for youth with disabilities in summer library programs. Before redesigning your library’s summer program, it’s important to consider the big picture at the very beginning of planning.  What is your overall goal in providing this summer library program…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Library Accessibility in 140 Characters or Less

Twitter is one of my favorite places to connect with other librarians.  As a tweeting youth services librarian, I experience a strong sense of community with the “Twitterbrarian” youth services community.  I am always learning–and often inspired by–what others tweet, retweet, like, or post. Many of the librarians I follow share my common interest in making libraries more inclusive for people with disabilities.  Here’s a snapshot of tweets with information, tips, suggestions, and recommendations I’ve gathered from other Twitterbrarians to help continue your learning about accessibility and libraries.   Conference centers/facilities: please invest in lav mics. Give people freedom to come out from behind podium & encourage accessibility. October 23, 2017 by @papersquared   #SensoryStorytime was SO much fun! We read: GO AWAY BIG GREEN MONSTER, DANCING FEET, & THE WIDE-MOUTHED FROG! #saturdaylibrarian. October 21, ,2017 by @Julia_Frederick   “Mind autism doesn’t mean one experiences autism mildly…it means YOU experience…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Recommending Books for Kids with Low Vision

Twitter is a great place to share ideas with your fellow youth librarians.  Just recently, Jennifer Taggart, blogger at Adaptive Umbrella and author of the recent ALSC blog post Inclusive Technology Station, reached out to her Twitter followers.  She needed suggestions of high contrast picture books for children with low vision to add to her library’s special needs collection. It made me think–how do families with children who have low vision find library books? Unless our libraries have a special needs collection, it can be difficult for librarians and parents alike to sift through all of the picture books to find the right one. If this is a situation you have struggled with at your library, here are some criteria you can consider when making book recommendations to families with children with low vision. High Contrast: Books featuring high contrasting colors are inherently more accessible to children with low vision.  These titles offer…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Autism Welcome Here: Grant Opportunity

                If your library is looking to fund a new project or service that welcomes people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at your library, consider the Autism Welcome Here Grant. The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” grant honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected co-founder, Meg Kolaya, for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries with the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with ASD and their families to the library community. It is sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. All types of libraries, either in the U.S. or Canada, are encouraged to apply.  Proposals can fund projects or services directed at any age group.  Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service, bring an established, successful program or service to their library for the first time, or enhance…

Blogger Renee Grassi

Learning About Library Accessibility

What does it mean to make your library accessible?  Is it just a quick evaluation of your space, making sure that your department is ADA compliant? Or is it more than that? The term accessibility encompasses a wide variety of issues and topics concerning access of those with disabilities.  When we consider accessibility in libraries, we think of library design, allocation of space, furniture, technology, programming, customer service, collections, library websites, volunteer and employment opportunities, library policies and procedures, and more.  Basically, library accessibility is about equal service and access for everyone in all areas of the library experience.  And there’s a lot to learn about it. ASCLA, a division of ALA, provides free online tip sheets perfect for anyone interested in learning more about library accessibility. These tip sheets provide an overview of each accessibility topic, they share concrete real-world tips and strategies to apply to your service and…