Forbes Library Accessibility Advisory Board
May 22nd, 2024
Attending: Barbara Black, Ben Kalish, Molly Moss, Mary Biddle, Mary Jo Stanley and Dorothy Baker

Public Comment

no comment

Announcements / updates

  1. A $40 stipend for meeting attendees is available; to receive the stipend attendees must fill out a W-9 with the library
  2. Bathroom accessibility and ventilation work is out to bid and could start as early as June
  3. Crosswalk across West St at the corner of Green Street: there is currently a warning sign for motorists approaching the crosswalk and a pedestrian-activated signal will soon be installed

Staff core competencies: seeking feedback

We have developed a set of core competencies for staff based around accessibility (attached) and would love feedback. The discussion was mostly focused on programs, and has been incorporated into the notes on the “Guide for Program Presenters”, below. Dorothy did ask about whether there is a wifi-free location in the library–Ben explained that multiple wifi networks from adjacent properties reach all points of the library property, even when the library’s networks are turned off, so it is not possible to provide a wifi-free area.

Ben will follow up with the Advisory Board by email for more input.

Guide for Program Presenters at the library.

We are developing guidelines for program presenters running programs (attached) in the library and are seeking feedback.

Barbara asked about audio description for films. With our current setup the audio description must be on for everybody or off for everybody. If someone requests it in advance, having a person do the audio description could work just fine, and a bluetooth microphone or the library’s assistive listening systems could be used to make this less disruptive to those who don’t need audio description. Ben will look into other ways of making audio description available–it would be great to have a system where anyone who wants audio description can wear a headset, like the system at movie theaters.

Captions are turned on for films at library run programs. Ben will make sure that this gets added to the Guide for Program Presenters.

Mary Jo asked about where the camera is mounted for programs.

In the Coolidge Museum the camera is fixed high in the room. The person running the livestream camera can pan and zoom and can switch the livestream between the camera input and, when the projector is in use, the image sent to the projector.

For this advisory board meeting, and similar small programs the library uses a Meeting OWL, a camera in the middle of the table that focuses on the person speaking. The meeting owl works well in small spaces with good acoustics, but can be difficult in larger spaces.

It is important that the presenter read and describe visual content, such as graphs or text in a slide show. Ben will make sure this gets added to the Guide for Presenters.

Ben will follow up with the Advisory Board by email for more input.

Display of selections from advisory board members?

We can put up a display highlighting materials recommended by this group. Could be books, films, magazines, audiobooks, music. It might help highlight the activities of this group. Perhaps each member of the group can make two suggestions? This could create a good display.

Barbara would like to see childrens’ books on display, and mention the wealth of books about kids who are not neurotypical.

The board also discussed Andrew Leland’s book Country of the Blind and the possibility of having a program with the author.

Ben will follow up with the Advisory Board by email to solicit suggestions.

Selection of Advisory Board co-chair

A community co-chair would share the talking and coordinating of agendas with Ben and might do some community outreach on behalf of the board. Barbara and Dorothy said that Mary Jo would be an excellent co-chair. Mary Jo will consider.

Other business

Mary Jo mentioned the webinars that other libraries do, such as in conjunction with Audubon, and wonders if there is a way for us to connect our patrons to them. 

Molly mentioned that there are many considerations, including financial, when it comes to library programming. 

Finding a way to communicate about the webinars available at other libraries could be helpful to people with disabilities who can’t hear the program when they attend in person.

Staff Core Competencies: Accessibility

Level 1- Baseline
Know how to use person-first language
Know when to talk to a patron vs when to talk to their caretaker
Know where to find the assistive listening receivers
Know where to find information about accessibility on the library website
Know where all the assistive devices are located in the departments where you work
Know where to send requests for accommodations (that you can’t reasonable fufill yourself)
Know when and how to tell a patron about the Forbes Library Accessibility Advisory Board
Know when to and how to tell a patron about proxy borrowers
Know when to and how to tell a patron about our delivery services
Level 2- Intermediate
Know how to use the portable assistive listening systems
Know how to use the Optelec desktop magnifier
Know when to and how to get patrons signed up for library services from Perkins
Know how to turn the screen reader on and off on mobile devices and computers

Guide for Program Presenters

  1. The speaker (or speakers) should use microphones
  2. Presenters should always repeat or paraphrase unamplified audience questions before answering them
  3. Assistive listening systems should be available for anyone who wants one
  4. Someone should make an announcement about the assistive listening system at the beginning of the program
  5. Other accommodations available upon request including interpreters. Two weeks notice is requested.