Being Connected – Libraries and Autism Project

Jenny Mustey, Library Services Manager at Campaspe Regional Library asked the Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service (SLMRCS) to help prepare the libraries for Communication Access assessment.

Technology-communication-boardThe Campaspe Regional Library was awarded a Pierre Gorman Award by the Library Board of Victoria to undertake the project ‘Being Connected – Libraries and Autism’. Through this project, the library service will improve and enhance their services for people with ASD. The project runs for two years from early 2014. The project includes developing a sensory audit checklist and auditing all branches, Communication Access assessment and awarding of the Communication Access Symbol, developing inclusive programming, staff development and training, developing new resources including ‘This is my library book’ and purchasing a TAP-it or similar mobile accessible internet station.

The SLMRCS Speech Pathologist visited each site to identify training and resources needs, provided information about accessible environments and about technology for Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC), trained (using the Communication Inclusion and Resource Centre, Scope’s high quality training materials) and consulted with the librarians’ group, provided visual communication aids for use at service desks, and organized mystery customers (people with disabilities whose observations and recommendations were made to the Library).

The training to the librarians was in September, just before International AAC Awareness Month in October. A mention of this during the training resulted in one Librarian being inspired to try holding a Silent Morning Tea at the Library. A couple of weeks later, the local paper carried a large front page photo and article about the Silent Morning Tea, followed by a photo and article on the next page explaining communication access.

by Meg Irwin
Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service