February 07, 2021 | Guest Blogger: Eileen O’Shea, Consultant for Infopeople
Infopeople (https://infopeople.org) first partnered with Project Enable in 2018 to provide learning experiences relating to accessibility awareness and libraries. Infopeople’s expertise in developing and delivering online learning combined with Project Enable’s amazing efforts to build the capacity of library staff to provide equitable access and services to students with disabilities was a great matchup. Between online courses and a webinar, over 350 people participated in learning events related to issues around inclusion and accessibility in 2019-2020 and gained new knowledge and skills. A learner who participated in Mary Kelly’s online course “Increasing Library Access and Inclusion” commented:
“I have already started to apply my new knowledge of autism to my interactions with patrons with this disability in order to ensure comfortable interactions for them. I plan on approaching my superiors with several simple improvements that can be made, and I definitely have been inspired to continue to pursue my knowledge on the subject in order to one day be comfortable with the content enough to help train my coworkers during staff development day eventually.”
While the learners have gotten a lot out of the training events, it’s also been a very enlightening partnership for Infopeople and has helped raise our awareness about what we should be doing to better address the accessibility needs of our learners.
We are excited to continue this partnership with Project Enable by offering two new webinars in Spring 2021. First up will be “Online Accessibility and Library Resources and Services: Where to Begin?” Presenters from the University of Minnesota’s Accessible U (https://accessibility.umn.edu) will provide an introduction to web accessibility: what the law requires, the basics of web accessibility that everyone should know, and tools to help improve accessibility, as well as a look at solutions that are relatively easy to implement.
Accessible U, for those who aren’t familiar with the site, is an amazing one-stop resource for information about all aspects of accessibility from legal considerations to handy tools you can use to design more accessible resources.
The second webinar will address another important topic for libraries: “Building a Library Culture of Inclusion with Outreach and Partnerships.” This webinar will cover methods libraries can use to discover and partner with groups and organizations that support people with disabilities.
We will offer follow-up discussions via Zoom a few days after the webinars for both of these webinars, and plan to recruit librarians who have participated in Project Enable to lead these discussions so that they can share their real-life experiences. As part of their Project Enable participation, these librarians created videos to propose solutions to challenges regarding serving students with disabilities. We encourage you to check out these videos prior to the discussions.
Registration for these events will be available at https://infopeople.org. The webinars will also be archived and available for anyone interested who can’t make the live events. Closed captioning will be available for all archived recordings.