In this video currently making its rounds on the Internet, the Wimpy burger chain announced their new Braille menu with hand-crafted sesame seed Braille hamburger buns. While the step to create an inclusive restaurant experience is commendable, the burger chain is missing the point in this promotional campaign. By creating a video without audio narration, they have posted something that is completely inaccessible to the target audience.
This can be a lesson to any library introducing new services to the special needs community: deliver your large-scale informational campaign in a manner that can actually be received by the population proper.
Bookshare is an online catalog of digital books for people with visual disabilities, and is free to any student in the United States with a qualifying disability. Additional information on who can qualify for membership and proof of disability requirements can be found at Bookshare’s website at: http://www.bookshare.org/_/membership/qualifications.
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.)
For those that are comfortable with a needle, thread, and soldering iron, you can save a lot of money by converting your own toys for use with adaptive switches with this instructional video from Children’s Care Hospital and School in Sioux Falls. Arlen Klamm, Assistive Technology Coordinator, providers step-by-step instructions to adapt any electronic plush toy to work with a variety of adaptive switches.
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/).
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)
Though Arizona State University does not have a Medical Library, the ADA services that they offer would be an amazing addition to any academic health sciences library. In addition to standard ADA building compliance, the ASU campus in Tempe has a dedicated ADA Service Room at Hayden Library and accessible workstations in all branch libraries. This video introduces the various assistive technologies that are available including various computer keyboards and mice, speech recongnition, magnification software, and Braille translators. Additional information about ADA services at all eight ASU libraries can be found online at: http://lib.asu.edu/ada.
Netherlands-based company, Optelec showcased some of their latest assistive technology for the visually impaired and dyslexic at the California Library Association Conference last month. One of the most impressive items was the ClearReader+ Advanced, a nearly instant text-to-speech scanner. Compact in size and easily portable with a battery and built-in handle, it is a fraction of the cost and size of previous machines. Users can also scan to a monitor to magnify text and images, and save documents with a voice label.