Portage District Library: Not a “Shushy” Place Anymore

Last Friday, we provided training to include individuals with disabilities in all aspects of the programs provided by the Portage District Library. They had called on us because while they have been very open to having anyone from the community use the library – there are certain situations unique to a library that they felt they needed some information, coaching and support. In particular, Christine Berro, Director, feels they need to be responsible for making their facilities and programs accessible for all. They don’t want anyone to think they cannot be there because they will be “shushed.” While researching what libraries can do to be inclusive, we found that there are many resources available to help libraries improve physical access to facilities, equipment and materials. However, there is not a lot of information about how to support individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities or behavior challenges in actual library programming. How do you accommodate children with autism into the reading hour? What can the library do to ensure that an adult with intellectual disabilities can participate in a poetry writing class?

We provided basic information about how to welcome and support individuals with disabilities. The topics we covered were a) various types of program accommodations, b) person first language and c) supporting positive behavior. For example, we gave them ideas for how to work with someone with autism who might have difficulty following directions. They can use pictures, written signs or specific concrete language.

Following our presentation and interactive learning opportunities, we offered the library staff an opportunity to brainstorm. They came up with several adaptations for programming accommodations for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities or behavior challenges that they had not (nor had we) thought of before.

Stayed tuned as the Portage District Library creates innovative ways to welcome and support everyone in their community to participate!