Forbes Library Disability Advisory Board
May 18, 2022

This meeting was on Zoom


  • Ben Kalish, Librarian
  • Brian Tabor, Librarian
  • Lisa Downing, Director
  • Laura Bovee
  • Anne Gancarz
  • Keith Benoit
  • Richard Ely
  • Linda Kakos
  • Mary Jo Stanley
  • Dorothy Baker
  • Barbara Black
  • Gilad Meron

Library updates

The library is awaiting the results of two accessibility grant applications, one for improvements to the restrooms and another to improve the labeling of art in the library.

The library is hosting a traveling exhibit by Stavros exploring the lives of people with disabilities during the pandemic.

Perkins Access, a digital accessibility consultant affiliated with Perkins School and Perkins Library, is offering digital accessibility workshops to librarians throughout the state as part of a partnership with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Attendance by Forbes Library staff has been very good.

Accessibility comments and concerns

Meeting attendees were invited to briefly state any accessibility comments or concerns, with discussion at the end of the meeting as time allows.

Rick Ely spoke about his appreciation for the Perkins Library and for audio description and identified both as possible topics for library programs.

Website improvements

The library recently revised its accessibility page at https://forbeslibrary.org/accessibility/ and would appreciate feedback.

The library is developing a new WordPress theme which should improve the accessibility of the website through better conformance with standards, larger fonts, and better contrast. Ben and Faith Kaufmann, the library’s webmaster, have scheduled a call with Perkins Access to discuss procedures for testing the new theme before going live. The library will be looking for folks to help test the theme and Ben will email the advisory board mailing list when the library is ready to begin that phase of testing. Testing by folks who use assistive technology online will be particularly appreciated.

Advocating for better services for the Deaf in the community

Mary Jo spoke about her experience at meetings offered by various Northampton organizations, online and in person, few of which offered accommodations for Deaf or hard-of-hearing folks. She also spoke about the need for a community group for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing, referencing a group that ceased meeting because of the pandemic. Several attendees offered similar stories and in the discussion that followed some potential paths towards improvement were identified:

  • If Mary Jo or any other member of the community wishes to revive the community group the library can help with physical space, online logistics, and promotion.
  • The library has a small portable assistive listening system which it can lend. The library will promote this service and will consider purchasing additional equipment to loan, appropriate for larger programs.
  • Zoom meeting hosts can, with advance notice, use caption strategies other than Zoom’s built in auto captions. Meeting attendees preferring an alternative should contact the meeting hosts ahead of time. Gilad Meron recommended rev.com as a service that works well with Zoom.
  • Comprehension improves for all when speakers slow down and speak clearly.

Meeting end

Several attendees were not able to continue on the call past 4:00. The following topics were tabled and will appear on the agenda for our next meeting:

  • Renaming the board?
  • Should there be a public list of board members?
  • Promoting the board?

At 4:06pm the meeting was adjourned. Folks were invited to stay on the call if they wished to discuss library programming about accessibility.