Renee then advised people to look at partners to consult with (training, advice on program content/structure, etc.) or coordinate/offer programming/services with and to help promote programs and services. She suggested looking at schools, advocacy groups, parks and recreation groups, health agencies/institutions, volunteer groups, other libraries. She mentioned that staff at her library had used meetup.com to find parent support groups that they could speak to about the library’s programs and services. I have created a LibGuide that I presented on Staff Day that is a possible starting place for locating potential partners.
Finally Renee said to get started you should look at securing funding and suggested a number of places that offer relevant grants including ALSC’s Light the Way Grant, the deadline for which is Dec 1st and Target’s Early Literacy Grant.
She also mentioned a few inclusive customer service tips: person first language, adjust your mindset (kids who are diffabled may need more movement and might not be able to sit the whole time, they may cover their ears to block out overstimulating sounds (noise cancelling headphones could be offered in a sensory kit), be patient and flexible (give time to process), ask simple questions, offer choices, encourage comments and suggestions (to show that you are aware of needs and that you are interested in their opinion).
Later on Renee created Sensory Storytimes by partnering with Lekotek to bring in play specialists to help them conduct inclusive programs for families. Lekotek’s National Center is located not far from Renee’s library so they were able to provide a toy lending library and to help with selecting books for storytimes. Renee also used a survey for families to find out about children’s likes/dislikes and any barriers to participation. Another resource is the USA Toy Library Association and there are some member libraries in MN (see their listing of locations).
I just found a guide that the Boston Museum put together on adapting after school programs that looks pretty good. It’s tailored towards youth on the autism spectrum.
Speaking of Sensory Storytimes if SPPL could offer some, which I think would be great, I would love us to use the following program description (a similarly worded statement could actually be used for other inclusive/targeted programs as well). I read this and it filled me immediately with a sense of happiness and acceptance and I think it is one of the most perfect and welcoming descriptions of a program that I have ever read:
All children ages 3-8 and their families are invited to participate in this lively and interactive monthly story time. Children with varying learning styles and abilities learn together in a safe and supportive environment where respect and appreciation for differences is encouraged.
--Erin Z-R @Central