Blogger Abby Johnson

Braille Enhanced StoryWalks® at #PLA2022

Y’all know I love the StoryWalks® at my library, but you know what could make them better? Increased accessibility for those with disabilities! In this morning’s session Braille Enhanced StoryWalks®, we learned about adding Braille text to StoryWalks®. The Library of Michigan and the Michigan Braille and Talking Books Library partnered to make this happen for dozens of library districts in their state, serving millions of residents.

A photo of a slide that reads Braille Enhanced StoryWalks: Designing and Collaborating for Accessibility – photo by Abby Johnson

To create Braille Enhanced StoryWalks®, staff from both organizations work together to select books. A partner organization transcribes the stories into Braille. The Braille is then printed on self-adhesive sheets and applied to the laminated StoryWalk® pages. And libraries in Michigan can apply to host one of the StoryWalks®.

One of the Brailled story pages. You can see the Braille appearing on the page above the text. Photo by Abby Johnson

While the Library of Michigan creates these StoryWalks® for libraries in Michigan, the presenters offered tips for libraries wanting to try this. Potential partners include:

  • Your state’s library for Braille and talking books (each state has one)
  • Local schools for the blind
  • Lions Club (potential source for funding and/or support)
  • Local school districts

And some tips I would never have thought of:

  • Braille takes up a lot of space, so choose books with simple, short text
  • Choose books where the story does not rely heavily on the images
  • Books with high contrast text (dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background) are better in general for folks with visual impairments

The StoryWalks® at my library are all permanent fixtures, so I definitely have some brainstorming to do about how I could make this work. And this session got me fired up to see what I can do!

If you do want to add Braille to your StoryWalks®, click through to the Library of Michigan’s Braille Enhanced StoryWalks® webpage with logos, social media posts, and marketing materials to help you spread the word.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it for you ENTIRE community. And that includes making services like StoryWalks® as accessible as possible.

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