Guest Blogger

Accessibility of All Sorts #PLA2022

The #PLA2022 Virtual Conference had multiple opportunities to learn more about accessibility, while the conference itself utilized captioning throughout and sign language interpreters for the headline speakers. This struck me as especially pertinent in the week that the movie CODA was recognized for outstanding performances of its cast – many of whom are deaf – and that I am writing a reading response for Cece Bell’s graphic novel El Deafo.

Sonia and Scott Norris spoke on Scalable Web Accessibility Training for Library Staff in Every Position. They shared fundamental accessibility components as well as more advanced ones for your library’s web team to utilize. The training should be meaningful and relatable to staff while complying with state laws. Just as we translate library information to a variety of languages, and utilize multiple marketing tools to reach different audiences, we should strive to meet the needs of the members of our community with varied abilities.

Abigail Phillips and Amelia Anderson continued this discussion as they shared results from their study to focus on maker spaces becoming more accessible. They highlighted ideas for including more accessible furniture and equipment in your maker space and offering a variety of programming to speak to different portions of your population. Specific examples of a visually impaired patron enjoying the tactile experience of pottery and considering the needs of patrons who may need a quiet environment were helpful. And communication is always key in including all in planning, making sure that your maker space audience knows who they can speak to regarding accommodations, and providing options that can reach many.

Throughout my LIS studies, I have encountered presentations regarding the Talking Library, sign language, story times for neurodivergent children, and website tools that will assist patrons with varied abilities. It is heartening to have those reinforced at a national level.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

Guest conference blogger Melinda Sandkam (she/her) will complete the MSIS program at University of Tennessee this May. She attended the last in-person ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia, January 2020, but sadly missed out on PLA in Nashville. She has enjoyed attending many conferences, webinars and symposiums online in past two years. As Melinda pursues a job in Outreach Librarianship, she looks forward to attending future conferences in person, but this time around is excited to enjoy her first PLA virtually. Melinda hopes that library associations will continue to offer virtual options moving forward in order to make them accessible to all. Whether in-person or virtual, dark chocolate is an essential snack for making it through a conference day!

#PLA2022 Conference Bloggers offered great overviews during the conference. Today we offer five more posts from the Public Library Association gathering in Portland last week. (This is post 4 of 5.) To see more posts, just search the ALSC Blog using the keyword #PLA2022.

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