Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Blogger Renee Grassi, Library Design and Accessibility, Professional Development, Projects & Research, Special Needs Awareness

Serving Children with Disabilities in Libraries: A Beginner’s Guide

Where should I begin? This can sometimes be the most challenging part about developing library services to children with disabilities.  In fact, the most common question I receive is about where to start.  While there isn’t a one-stop-shop when it comes to expanding your knowledge in this area, I’m pleased to say that there is a plethora of resources out there that can help you on your journey to becoming an advocate for children with disabilities.  Basically, what that means is that the first step is to learn.  And you’re in luck–here are some of my favorite resources to help you do just that!

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness

A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start? As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions: The location of the program- Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues. Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision. Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius. Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Blogger Renee Grassi, Committees, Library Design and Accessibility, Professional Development, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness

Professional Resources for Learning About Inclusive Play

So much learning happens through play. Play can help children practice language, motor skills, problem-solving skills and social skills. Many of our libraries may already include free play as part of our storytime programs for young children to support this growth. We may not realize it, though, but there are many barriers to play that exist for children with special needs.  Some of the kids in our communities may not be equipped with the skills to play without accommodations or support. So it’s important that we develop strategies to be inclusive and enable access to play for all. Coming up with accessible and inclusive play-based activities and games for storytime programs can be a challenge if you do not have a background in occupational therapy or special education. Thankfully, there are a variety of up to date and valuable resources at our disposal to help us learn about inclusive play-based…

Blogger Angela Reynolds, Outreach, Partnerships, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness

Trying something new

A few months back I saw a photo from Hennepin County Library on Instagram. It showed how much fun they had at their Sensitive Family Time — a time for families living with autism to explore the library. As I was looking for a way to partner with our local Autism Centre, I jumped on this fantastic idea. After a few phone calls and emails, we had a date. We opened one of our branches for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon, just for these families. The families had signed up in advance with the Autism Centre, so we knew who to expect. Staff from their centre attended, and welcomed the families. Our staff were on hand to show them around the library, read  stories, and get them signed up for library cards. We had some toys out (I had these already from storytime), and just let the kids roam…

Blogger Renee Grassi, Diversity, Grants and Fundraising, Library Design and Accessibility, Special Needs Awareness

Announcing New Grant! Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services, and More

Is your library looking to expand services to patrons with autism, but you are in need of funding to get your project started? Look no further than this new grant opportunity “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More.” This grant honors the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism 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.  This opportunity is funded by Barbara Klipper, librarian and author of Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ALA Editions, 2014) and The Secret Rules of Social Networking (AAPC Publishing, 2015), a one-of-a-kind resource for teens and young adults with ASD or other social skills deficits that outlines the unstated rules that guide relationships in the real world and online as well. Any type…

Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Blogger Renee Grassi, Child Advocacy, Library Design and Accessibility, Outreach, Professional Development, Special Needs Awareness

The LSSPCC Toolkit: Making All Families Feel Welcome at the Library

Who Are We? We are ALSC’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee.  We are accessibility and inclusion advocates who care deeply about the needs of our entire library community, especially special population children and their caregivers. What Do We Do? We discover and disseminate information about what libraries have to offer these special populations.  We develop and maintain guidelines for selection of useful and relevant materials.  We also help prepare the next generation of librarians and library workers by creating and providing resources to serve their communities more inclusively. What Is The LSSPCC Toolkit? The LSSPCC Committee has worked hard to develop a brand new resource for librarians and library works to develop or enhance your knowledge about serving special populations.  Launched earlier this year, this easy-to-use Toolkit for Librarians and Library Workers is available FREE online and can be downloaded or saved as a…

ALA Annual 2015, Blogger Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers, Special Needs Awareness

Learn How To Better Serve Your Community @ ALA Annual

The American Library Association’s 2015 Annual Conference is approaching. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to explore the Scheduler tool available to you on alaac15.ala.org. I’m excited to share with you several sessions for librarians and library staff aimed at how to better serve your special needs populations. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “Special Population”, I strongly recommend reading, “What Do You Mean by Special Population?” , by fellow committee member, Amy Musser. Here, Amy highlights the importance of creating services and programs for special needs populations as a way of making sure our libraries remain accessible. She urges us to remember, “…all patrons are individuals, not just members of one group or another.” With that, I have here a list of incredible programming available to you at ALA San Francisco: Library Services for the Incarcerated and Detained | Saturday, 06/27/2015 – 08:30am – 10:00am | Marriott…

Blogger Public Awareness Committee, Diversity, Programming Ideas, Special Needs Awareness

Sensory Storytime Resources on the ALSC Pinterest Account

As ALSC blogger Renee Grassi reminded us earlier this month, April is National Autism Awareness Month. For libraries, months that observe, celebrate, or raise awareness for a group of people or an issue should serve as annual checks for our services: “It’s National Autism Awareness Month; I should make sure that our library services to children with special needs and their families are excellent all year long.” If you find yourself currently evaluating your programs for children with special needs of any type–in particular for young children and their families–I’m pleased to share that members of the Library Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers (LSSPCC) Committee have been amassing and curating resources on a Sensory Storytime board on ALSC’s Pinterest account. They’re creating an excellent resource for libraries just setting out to offer sensory storytimes as well as for those of you in a place to evaluate and…