Accessible at All Ability Levels

Making school libraries open to everyone

July 4, 2017

2017 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition logo

It is well known that libraries can have a huge impact on student success. Dr. Karen Gavigan presented on ways to ensure that all students are included in library activities. She and Dr. Clayton Copeland have researched the ways in which librarians are making their libraries accessible to differently abled students.

Their research focused on a middle-school librarian in South Carolina. The rural school supported 14 students with special needs. The school had achieved success with a mix of differentiated instruction, learning the students’ backgrounds and preferences, and making the students themselves more visible to the rest of the student community.

A variety of potential strategies were put forward: actively reaching out to teachers to obtain information about students with special needs, ensuring that the physical space of the library is ADA-compliant and welcoming, developing programming with special needs in mind, and making sure that all ability levels are depicted in the library’s collection.


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