New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

The Americans with Disabilities Act Is (Almost) 25!

How Is Your Library Celebrating?

By: Brigid Cahalan, Past President Roundtable on Library Service to Special Populations

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on the White House lawn, marking passage of  the most significant civil rights legislation affecting the disability community in the United States.

Make sure your library doesn’t let this important milestone pass by unnoticed! Here are a few ideas you can start thinking about.

Every county in the country has at least one Independent Living Center. Speak to the one in your area; they are some of your local experts on disability-related topics. Invite them to visit the library for a tour, and to give you input on how to make your library more accessible. Their mandate includes public education so they may be eager to join forces with the library in putting on an educational program..

How about a performance by a group such as the New York Deaf Theatre or Theatre by the Blind?

Get in touch with a disability rights activist and invite them to your library to give a presentation, via Skype if necessary.

Have book discussions and film showings about the disability experience. The ReelAbilities  website can give you lots of ideas for more contemporary films.

Invite local organizations to send speakers on a variety of disability-related topics . A few possibilities:
●    Hearing Loss/Deafness: Hearing Loss Association of America, Empire State Association of the Deaf
●    Low Vision/Blindness: local chapter of the American Council of the Blind, National Federation of the Blind, or any of many other organizations
●    Developmental Disabilities: The Arc, the Cerebral Palsy Association, and many more.
●    Mental Illness: NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

If an academic institution near you offers a degree in Disability Studies, they may want to partner, and will certainly want their students to know about programs.

How about a program on Disability Etiquette? Or one on making your business, organization, office, home, or house of worship more accessible? Or a workshop  introducing kids, teens, and/or adults to American Sign Language, or braille? The possibilities are endless, but whatever you do your efforts will be appreciated.

You’ll want to be sure your library, and your events, are as accessible as possible. For some tips take a look at the slides provided by Kleo King, J.D., of the United Spinal Association. She spoke at the 2013 NYLA conference on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Libraries. Also, you can check with one of the ADA’s regional centers.

At least 10% of the population in the U.S. has an ADA-defined disability at any point in time, and anyone can join this group at any time. If you don’t currently have a disability you can consider yourself a TAB (Temporarily Able-Bodied Person)!

So, why not start thinking now about how your library can join in the ADA’s 25th Anniversary Celebration!