Forbes Library Disability Advisory Board

Initial Meeting. 13 July 2015.


  • Barbara Black
  • Jo-ann Bowen
  • Lisa Downing (Forbes Library, assistant director)
  • Rick Ely
  • Ben Kalish (Forbes Library, reference librarian)
  • Janet Moulding (Forbes Library, director)
  • Deidre Muccio
  • Sandra Shelton
  • Mary Jo Stanley

After brief introductions Janet, Lisa, and Ben provided updates on the libraries work on the Serving People With Disabilities Grant:

Updates (Lisa):

  • Forbes has received a two year federal grant to serve people with disabilities.
  • We believed the elevator would be done before we started the grant. The work continues and should be done soon.The library sees this as a good time to look at accessibility for folks once they are inside the library (programs, services, collections, etc.).
  • The library has had two disability awareness programs for staff. The first gave perspectives of folks from the community. The second included experiential exercises (navigating the library in wheelchair, while blindfolded, etc.) Asking staff, what can we do better.
  • The library has formed an advisory board with members of the community (this is the initial meeting of that board).
  • The library is relabeling materials to make CC, described video, etc., easier to find.
  • We have begun focused collection development to add disability related materials from the library.

Plans for moving forward (Lisa)

  • A focus on disability related public programming in the next year
  • Continuing focus on collection development to add disability related materials from the library.

Elevator update (Janet)

  • The process is slow because the necessary precision requires finishing the pit before building the elevator
  • The pit has been dug and the frame assembled and painted
  • Parts are being built and should begin arriving soon
  • Completion should be twenty five days after all the parts have arrived
  • The library will also be replacing the heavy poorly balanced doors in September

Update on new technology (Ben)

  • The library has acquired three FM assistive listening systems including transmitters and receivers (one transmitter is portable, one transmitter is installed in the Coolidge Museum, and one is installed in the Community Room.)
  • The library has acquired four countertop loop assistive listening systems, one for each service desk. These can be used with some hearing aids and the library has receivers and headphones for use at the desks.
  • Recent improvements to the sound systems in the Coolidge Museum and the Community Room will make hearing and comprehending library programs easier for many.
  • Windows Magnifier and JAWS software installed on public computers help make computers accessible to those with limited vision.
  • Illuminated magnifying glasses are available at every service desk.
  • Every service desk has a whiteboard and library staff are encouraged to use it when it will make communicating easier.

Disability Advisory Board Purpose (Lisa)

  • Invitations sent. Everyone encouraged to let us know if anyone else should be invited.
  • Please use advisory board mailing list for discussion, announcements, etc. Messages should be sent to disability-board@forbeslibrary.org
  • Suggest public program ideas
  • Discuss accessibility

Programming Ideas:

Lisa’s programming ideas:

  • Author talks
  • Katherine Duke, author of Kissibility.
  • Kimberly Elkins, author of What is Visible.
  • Lisa encouraged the board to suggest other authors.
  • Rick Ely suggested Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
  • Book discussion group centered on disability.
  • Please let us know what books you would like suggested
  • Deidre Muccio suggests memoir about mother from musical family with two deaf children. She will work with the reference desk staff to determine the name of the book.
  • Rick Ely has planned a presentation about how described video is made
  • Rick Ely will do a presentation or series on the portrayal of disability in Hollywood
  • Assistive technology trainings
  • Jo-Ann Bowen suggested programs with the purpose of increasing awareness of the need for accessibility throughout Northampton

Program ideas generated during group discussion:

  • JAWS trainings
  • Technology trainings
  • Dictation software
  • Apps for those with low vision
  • Blind user group
  • E-books for folks with limited vision
  • Blind and low-vision iphone and ipad app class/ sampler
  • Mary-Jo Stanley suggests a film series
  • Reading lists and book displays
  • Rick Ely suggests programs which pair disability related books with films
  • Mary-Jo Stanley suggested a hearing loss user-group
  • Jo-Ann Bowen suggested a Heroes of the American Disability Act program (Justin Dart was suggested as one such hero)

The following issues were also briefly discussed:

  • Celebrating the 25th anniversary of ADA. (Forbes Library will have a display in the library.
  • Barbara Black suggested that the library contact Whole Children, an organization founded by parents of children with special needs in Hadley
  • We discussed how folks know what events are happening at the library
  • Online calendar (lists all events)
  • Email lists (selected events, by topic)
  • Printed calendar (highlights just a few events each month)
  • Deidre Muccio suggested we promote more events on WHMP
  • Jo-Ann Bowen brought up accessibility for those with chemical sensitivity. Ben Kalish said the library is very careful when purchasing furniture, carpets, and cleaning supplies to reduce the impact on those with chemical sensitivity. Janet Moulding added that many of the chemical smells that cause problems in the library come in with the patrons or returned books. Ben said the library would love to do more to reduce these problems, but that it isn’t clear what the library could do.
  • We discussed the experience upon entering the library. There is no staff near the entrance, and new visitors may not receive help if they don’t know where to go to ask for it. Could the library have greeters? Perhaps students with a community service obligation or volunteers?
  • Mary Jo Stanley mentioned First Call For Help, and how there is no equivalent for the more social aspects of disability.
  • Mary Jo Stanley suggested developing reading lists for parents of children with disabilities as well as a reading list for children with disabilities

After wrapping up the discussion, Lisa promised to follow up on the advisory board email list. She will send the meeting notes as well as contact information for Lisa, Janet, and Benjamin. The next meeting will be scheduled for September and be held at the library.