Forbes Library Disability Advisory Board

Second Meeting. 31 March 2016.


  • Lisa Downing (Forbes Library, assistant director)
  • Ben Kalish (Forbes Library, reference librarian)
  • Mary Jo Stanley
  • Joel Dansky (formerly of disability services at Hampshire College)

Updates from Lisa.

  • Elevator construction completed Dec 31. It has been great and gets lots of use.
  • AV system updates. New systems in both the Coolidge Museum and Community Room include improved sounds systems, projectors, and assistive listening systems.
  • Tech classes for folks who are blind or low vision. These are scheduled once a month for duration of series. Classes have been very well attended. Topics have included eBooks and assistive technology on iOS devices. The classes have been recorded for the Valley Reading Service.
  • Rick Ely and Lisa were interviewed for the Valley Reading Services.
  • Lisa is working with the Children’s Department to create a sensory storytime series designed with children on the Autism spectrum in mind.
  • We have promoted services and programs through radio PSAs, newspapers, patron emails, and in house publicity. We also get in touch with other organizations to promote programs, for example Perkins has helped promote our low-vision accessibility series.
  • Evolution of the Forbes Library Outreach Program. Program has been reworked with a volunteer coordinator and volunteers who will deliver library materials (books, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines, etc.) to folks unable to visit the library.
  • The library is working on an online library card sign up form, rules for proxy borrowers, and other ways of making it easier to use the library for folks who cannot visit the library.
  • The first year of the grant focused on equipment and staff training.
  • This second year of the grant is focused on programming.

Library Collection Suggestions

Lisa requested folks submit suggestions, during the meeting or afterwards. Suggestions are welcome both for materials related to disability topics and for accessible collections. No suggestions were offered during the meeting.

Library Programs and Events Suggestions

We are always looking for more ideas. The following suggestions were offered during the meeting.

  • Mary Jo suggests a community wide read with a book focused on disability. She would particularly recommend something focusing on deafness to combat the stigma against the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Suggestions for community read: What Is Visible? Books related to FDR?
  • Possible FDR related field trip?
  • iPhones: there are lots of ways to use it, but how to use it best? Apps? Additional hardware? Class taught by a nerdy teenager with a hearing cochlear implant?
  • A public program that could help folks understand the experience of having a disability by simulate the experience of living with a disability.
  • Multi-format storytime. (Reading to children from a braille book and presenting it in ASL simultaneously?)


  • We will be celebrating the elevator completion on Saturday April 30th, at 2:00. There will be a talk about historical elevators, food, and celebration
  • We will host an author panel of writers writing about disability on May 4th. The featured writers are: Claire Blatchford, author of Coming to My Senses. Katherine Duke, author of Kissability: People with Disabilities Talk About Sex, Love, and Relationships, and Susan Stinson, author of Venus of Chalk.

Community Outreach Discussion

Lisa asked for places or organizations we should be aware of either for promoting our services, or to learn from.

  • Mary Jo urges further connections with the VA in Leeds. She has a good contact there she will pass on to Lisa.
  • Joel mentioned UMass disability conference.
  • Joel mention Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD)