As part of their Equal Access for All grant, I provided education and training to the staff at Paul Pratt Memorial Library in Cohasset, MA. The goal was to explore how to develop a system of supports designed to increase access to libraries for people with complex communication needs, particularly augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users.
While specific supports are important, the overarching goal is to establish and commit to a culture of inclusion.
The presentation covered the following theoretical and practical content:
- Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Understanding the language and sensory profile of individuals with ASDs
- Environmental Modifications: Recommended physical changes to the environment and utilization of a visual language
- Inclusion and Adaptation: Adapting events and processes to be more inclusive for people with ASDs
- Resources and Outreach: Supporting children, families, and librarians
Libraries are in the unique position to adapt any event or workshop so that is accessible and inclusive. Examples of maker spaces, multi-sensory story kits, social stories, visual schedules, topic boards, and sensory and visual supports were provided and recommended for continued use as a way to help the library meet a wide array of needs.
Augmentative and alternative communication apps as well as other web-based resources were recommended as well.
I look forward to continuing to partner with Paul Pratt Memorial Library as they incorporate and increase the ways in which they can make the library more accessible.
I will discuss this initiative as a panelist in an upcoming workshop (Serving Library Patrons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): A Blueprint for Innovative & Practical Solutions) for the Massachusetts Library Association at their annual conference in Hyannis, MA on May 24th, 2017.
Special thanks to Jenna Keaney, SLPA and Ashley Clarke OTR/L for their assistance and creativity with the strategies and supports.