A needs assessment survey published in 2005 details the first phase in a partnership with the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center (HAM-TMC) Library, and Family to Family Network (F2FN). F2F provides services and support to families with special needs children in the Houston area. The needs assessment survey was the first phase of a joint effort to increase health information access to Texas families of special needs children. Both the survey methods and questions are detailed in the article, and would be an excellent template for any biomedical library interested in partnering with local resources to increase outreach and education to any special needs population.
Huber JT, Dietrich JD, Cugini E, Burke S. F2F connection: a community health information needs assessment of Texas families who have children with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities and their care providers. J Med Libr Assoc 2005 Apr;93(2):278-281. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082946/
Understanding Assistive Technology – PACER Simon Technology Center
The Simon Technology Center (STC) at Minnesota’s PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) presents a simple, illustrative definition of assistive technology. The STC provides assistive technology consultations and training in addition to a lending library. Their video presents a welcome reminder that assistive technology is not necessarily cost-prohibitive. The first example of assistive technology given is a simple foam grip that allows a child to hold a crayon. Eye glasses and corrective lenses are perhaps the most common form of assistive technology, and a reminder that many library patrons have special needs even if they are not considered to have a disability.
To find local resources in your state, the PACER Center recommends: The Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (http://www.ataporg.org/).
Biomedical professionals with special needs should be considered when developing a strategy for an inclusive library. They are both patient and clinician. In addition to reference inquires that might arise when treating their patients, they may also have information and accessibility needs directly related to their own disabilities.
The Society of Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities (http://www.DisabilitySociety.org/) is an organization for health professionals with disabilities and associates. Providing professional resources and support, lifetime memberships are free. In addition to the global society, there are three subgroups:
- Physicians with Disabilities (www.PhysicianswithDisabilities.org)
- Pharmacists with Disabilities (http://www.PharmacistswithDisabilities.org)
- Nurses with Disabilities (http://NursingwithDisabilities.org)
The Society of Healthcare Professionals with Disabilities also maintains a blog that can be subscribed to via email or RSS
Introduction to UDL (Center for Applied Special Technology)
The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) leads the Universal Design for Learning movement based upon their research to improve instruction to children with special needs. UDL takes into account various learning styles of individuals in education and instruction. Universal Design for Learning considers neurological differences in the recognition, strategic, and affective networks in the brain, providing multiple means of representation (recognition network), action and expression (strategic network), and engagement (expression network) in instructional strategies. The concepts of UDL can be applied to both health and information literacy in any biomedical library, and could be especially useful for those in academic health sciences libraries.
Center for Applied Special Technology. About UDL. [cited 2011 December 8]. Available at: http://www.cast.org/udl/index.html.