The January 7, 1998 edition of PULSE, The Medical Student Section of JAMA was dedicated to a series of articles on “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Afterwards: Disabilities in Medical Education and Practice”. One of the most interesting items in the entire section was the statistic that 8.8% of all college freshman report having a disability compared to only 0.2% of medical school graduates (1, p. 79). Covering topics from mental health to deafness, many of the articles are written from the first-person point of view of the disabled medical student, and while over ten years old is still an important read for any academic health sciences librarian.
(1) Reichgott MJ. The disabled student as undifferentiated graduate: a medical school challenge. JAMA 1998 Jan 7;279(1):79. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.79
This is a very entertaining and informative personal narrative of Dr. Ian Grant-Whyte and his experiences as a physician with dyslexia. Dr. Grant-Whyte graduated from Cambridge Medical School unable to read, and finally learned to read at 41. He cites attending a speed reading course as the key, having been introduced to the concept of using his finger as a pacer. Born in South Africa, he ends the interview with a Zulu lullabye. More information about Dr. Ian Grant-Whyte and his memoir can be found on his website at: http://www.dyslexicdoc.com/.
(Disclaimer: there are two words bleeped at the beginning of the interview. Potentially NSFW or around children.)
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:
Susan Fleming, MN, RN, CNS and PhD candidate at Washington State University College of Nursing shares her experience working as a nurse of over 35 years. Having been born with only one hand, Fleming has excelled in her profession with the help of a prosthetic hand. While offering encouragement to others in the field with a disability, her experience can be enlightening to there rest of the biomedical community as they serve those with disabilities.
The Toy and Technology Library in association with the Ohio State University Medical Center is a lending library for adaptive toys for children with special needs. Adaptive toys traditionally are more expensive than standard toys. By providing a free toy-lending service, parents can try out toys prior to purchase and work with a therapist to create an educational play environment.
Toy lending libraries are ideal additions to biomedical libraries in children’s hospitals, and have actually been around for decades in numerous countries. The University of Nottingham’s Toy Library was founded in 1970 while researching the development of play in children with disabilities, and remains active today. Child development case studies are taken when a family applies for membership; and both children and parents are provided with education and referrals to support the entire family. (1)