This guide is primarily designed for educators and library professionals who want to learn more about how to better support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, many of these resources can be helpful for families, friends or anyone interested in exploring ASD. Additionally, you may be interested in my Autism Resources Guide for Parents & Caregivers, or my Disabilities Guide. My hope is that this guide will raise awareness and prompt librarians and educators to improve services, teaching strategies, resources, and interactions for individuals on the spectrum.
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability (CDC, 2016). In the US, the prevalence is estimated at 1 in 54 births. Libraries need to be aware of this growing population so that we can educate library staff and be prepared to help people who learn and communicate differently. Individuals with disabilities face inequity when using the library, including the physical space, the library website, programming or lack thereof, restrictive loan periods, and resources that aren’t available in formats that they need. Libraries must be proactive and learn to recognize and minimize barriers, educate library staff, and improve services by using a universal design approach.
Project ENABLE (Expanding Nondiscriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere) funded by grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, provides free, foundational training, designed specifically for public, academic or school librarians worldwide, to help them gain the knowledge and skills needed to create inclusive and accessible libraries that meet the needs of all students.
Project ENABLE offers comprehensive training for librarians to learn how to design effective library services and programs for students of all abilities.
I serve on the Project ENABLE Advisory Board. We are currently partnering with Infopeople on our current grant from IMLS, awarded in 2019, to develop new and additional training that includes online courses, webinars and discussions, and a section on this website called “Train the Trainer,” still in development. This section provides workshop and course outlines, related support materials, such as video interviews, pathfinders, and PowerPoints, and a set of guidelines for using them to design customized, in-house disabilities training.
I presented on Project ENABLE at the Fall 2020 KLA Conference. You may view my presentation on the link to YouTube above.