Five tips towards inclusive programming for kids and teens
The Child & Teen Library Interest Group consists of library staff who are committed to and passionate about accessible library services. Here are five tips they recommend to make your programs welcoming to families with disabilities:
1. Promote accessibility. Make marketing and promotional materials accessible by following guidelines such as WebAIM: Typefaces and fonts. Use large text, clear fonts and leave ample white space around important information. Include the details of a program or service’s accessibility features in all promotions, as well as contact information for participants to request other accommodations.
2. Prepare for accommodations. Adapt activities to meet the participants’ needs by using accessible materials such as larger craft supplies and adapted writing implements. Engage multiple senses by adding tactile and sound elements. Provide training to staff or volunteers on interacting with people with varying types of disabilities.
3. Provide a safe physical space. Keep areas clear of tripping hazards and aisles wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. As much as possible, allow participants’ to self-select a seating location that meets their needs. For example, children that are hard of hearing may want to sit close to the presenter while children uncomfortable in crowds may want to sit further away.
4. Offer instructions in multiple ways and formats. During activities, give specific and concise instructions, one step at a time. Wherever relevant, include visual instructions, such as in-progress examples of a craft. When reading a story, describe any pictures that are not explained by the text.
5. Community Outreach. Reach out to relevant community organizations, schools, and parent/caregiver groups. Embrace the disability community’s “Nothing about us, without us” approach and allow community members to speak for themselves. Consult people with disabilities about the types of programs and services they want, and how the library can best meet their accessibility needs.