Monday, June 4, 2018

LBS 850- Assistive and Adaptive Technology

This week we were asked to explore Adaptive and Assistive Technologies from a librarian’s point of view. We reached out to experts and point people in our district, read articles about the need for accessible and welcoming spaces, and were encouraged to begin crafting a plan for evaluating accessibility in our Media Centers.

There were two articles from Janet Hopkins, both of which included punch lists of actionable items to help librarians ensure accessibility for all their patrons. The first one (written for the journal Teacher Librarian in 2004) gives background on what Assistive Technology is and then shares very simple steps that librarians can use to evaluate things in their own spaces. These tips are very elementary, and I suspect this is on purpose. Asking librarians to start by reaching out to special education colleagues and commit to viewing the library space from other perspectives is non-threatening and reinforces the idea that, while very important, this change will not happen overnight. Librarians are given permission, in this article, to seek professional development before diving deeply in.

The following article, written two years later, seems to encourage librarians to reach further beyond the planning stage. This article has more explanations about aspects of AT in the media center and planning for a longer haul commitment. Although the articles are framed differently and weren't published consecutively, they really compliment each other and continue to urge librarians to go further in providing accessibility.

I also spent some time this week exploring Project Enable, a service through Syracuse University specifically targeted to librarians. While the 20-hour training seems very intriguing, the resource list is also extremely helpful.

At the intersection of the book world and the need for accessibility is an issue that came up this weekend at Book Expo, one of the largest publishing conventions in the country. One of the invited authors, Tee Franklin, uses a wheelchair and accommodations were not taken into account when she was asked to speak on a panel about comics. She arrived to the panel with no way to join the other authors on stage, in an embarrassing position in front of the audience already gathered. This is the emotional video she posted on Twitter soon after she chose to leave the panel and sign her comic elsewhere. It's a real life face on these issues we discuss academically, and extremely important.


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