assistive technology

Why Public Libraries Need to Proactively Teach Chromebooks to the Public

Ten years ago, I started my current public library job in Takoma Park, Maryland. Soon after I started the job, several Hurricane Katrina refugees arrived at my public library. It's scary to lose your entire city to a hurricane. When you show up in a new city, it's vital that the people you meet welcome you as valued members of their community.

One of these refugees, Desiree, was a wheelchair user. When she asked me for help in obtaining a donated computer, I put her at the front of my list of waiting recipients. When a donated Dell desktop came in, I set it up for her in her apartment and told her to contact me when it wasn't working.

Over the years, I visited her apartment to provide tech support, but I didn't feel the burden of tech support as being heavy – until she obtained a Google Chromebook.

Assistive Technology Tips from Expert Librarians

Assistive technology continues to be an important topic as public libraries strive to become more inclusive spaces for all members of the community. The American Library Association has a clear policy on accessibility:

"Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. Libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources and services meet the needs of all people." 

Accessibility is also a big part of the Edge Initiative, an assessment program that provides libraries with benchmarks, best practices, and resources for public technology services. 

Edge Benchmark 11 states:

"Libraries ensure participation in digital technology for people with disabilities."

Sounds pretty straightforward, but how do you actually implement this practice? We invited three speakers on our February webinar to share their unique experiences with assistive technology:

Itasca Community Library's Vision Center

Thank you again to Soon Har Tan from the Itasca Community Library (IL) and Tom Perski from The Chicago Lighthouse for starring in today's Edge Initiative webinar! If you missed the session, you'll be glad to know it was recorded. The archive is available now.

Technology for Library Users with Disabilities

There are many exciting ways in which technology is empowering some people who have disabilities. At its best, technology can help people communicate more effectively and function more independently. It can improve quality of life. Many libraries are finding ways to facilitate adoption of technology for library patrons who have disabilities. Other libraries are working to find ways to add to the assistive technology at the library.

Making the library's technology user-friendly for children with special needs

Come On In! at the Skokie Public Library (IL) offers specialized services, programs, and resources for families and encourages children with special needs to "Come On In!" and enjoy the library.  The Youth Services Staff has been trained to better understand and serve children with disabilities. Join us for a free webinar to learn more about this successful program, with special attention to the technology involved.

Refresher on Assistive Technologies for People with Vision Impairments

Kami Griffiths, my co-worker and training facilitator par excellence organized a Meetup last Friday at the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind, which I was fortunate enough to attend. The presenters, Patty Quinonez and Shen Kuan were both power users of assistive technology themselves and experts at training others.

Free Webinar: An Overview of Website Accessibility

This post was originally published to the TechSoup Blog and was authored by Kami Griffiths. 

Please join us next Thursday, January 14 at 11 a.m. Pacific time for our next free TechSoup Talks! webinar. We will be discussing website accessibility with Jane Vincent from the Center for Accessible Technology.

Here We Go A Webinar-ing!

Wow, it seems like there is a lot of online learning going on recently! We had a great webinar yesterday with WebJunction on Library Computer Networking, and they have another hot tech topic next week, Integrated Library Systems: Open Source and Customization. AND here at TechSoup we have a webinar coming up next week! See a quick list below. Maybe you can multi-task and do end of year filing or wrapping presents while you listen.

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