Making Libraries More Inclusive with Communication Boards

 

Imagine this...

Once upon a time, there was a young boy who loved to visit the local library. He often spent hours there, poring over the shelves of books, dreaming of all the books he could take home with him.

During one of his visits, he was eager to learn about knights and their adventures. He was so excited that he quickly ran up to the librarian to ask for help finding that kind of book.

The young boy was non-speaking and didn’t yet know how to read or write, so he was unable to communicate his wants and needs. The librarian, seeing the boy’s eagerness, tried to help him, but the language barrier was too great for them to overcome. She showed him several books spanning several topics: trains, animals, and geography, but none of these were the book he was looking for.

Sadly, the boy left the library without what he had been searching for. He felt so disappointed that he could not find books about knights. Every time he went to the library afterwards, he looked for the book, but these were not the books he was looking for.

Although the boy never lost his love of books and he continued to visit the library, he was never able to find the books he was actually looking for each time.

Could this story have been different? Let's see...

Once upon a time there was a young boy who could not speak. He was often frustrated because he couldn’t communicate with the people in the new places he visited. One day, his parents took him to the local library for a library activity.

When he arrived, he was amazed to see a communication board on the wall. He quickly realized that he could point to the pictures on the board to communicate his thoughts and questions, just like he does at home. The librarian was very helpful and understood that he was looking for a book about about knights.

The boy was so excited to finally be able to express himself outside of his home. He didn’t get to experience that in many places yet. He left the library with two new books about knights and a heart full of joy. He was so grateful for the librarian and the library for giving him the opportunity to communicate and find the book he followed his interest.

The boy returned to the library often to find new books and to practice his communication with others using the communication board. He eventually gained the confidence to voice his thoughts, and he was able to make friends and join in conversations. He feels included and accepted as he is. His parents also learned about the impact that access to communication can have outside of the home.

The boy’s story had a happy ending and he his love for books only grew from there, all thanks to an inclusive library and the librarian who helped him find his voice.

What are Communication Boards?

Communication boards are a great way to help individuals with communication difficulties express their thoughts and feelings. A communication board is an arrangement of a variety of images and words that the user can point to in order to express themselves. They come in various sizes and word choices and can be customized to suit not only the individual’s needs, but also the needs of the environment. Communication boards can be used to help people with autism, strokes, or other communication difficulties. They are also great for helping people with limited language skills to communicate more effectively. They can also be used to help people with learning disabilities or physical disabilities to make their needs known. Communication boards can help reduce frustration, increase understanding, and improve communication between the user and their family, friends, and caregivers.

Why should a library add a communication board?

 

Besides being the right thing to do…

 

Libraries should have communication boards because they provide a platform for people to interact and communicate in a safe and constructive way. Communication boards can be used by library patrons to post questions and share ideas, which can foster an environment of collaboration and learning. Non-Speaking children are able to point to the pictures to make requests to the librarians by pointing to the pictures. Early readers can use the board to practice their reading skills. Early learners can use the board to learn new vocabulary of words related to library events.

Furthermore, communication boards can help create a sense of community among library patrons, which can help cultivate a more welcoming atmosphere in the library. All in all, communication boards can be a great addition to any library, as they can help create a more interactive, engaged, and welcoming space for patrons.

How can we help?

As a speech therapist, my goal is to break communication barriers anywhere they exist. Including your library. While both school and city playgrounds might perceived as the same, in reality they are not. The city playground is most often used by kids with their families, while the school playground is mostly used by kids and their teachers and peers. This changes the vocabulary choices and instructions on each of these boards. It is no different from library boards. That’s why I also designed a communication board with vocabulary needed in a library setting. Take a look at it:

Taking the next step:

Libraries are essential for the educational development of any community. They provide access to knowledge and resources that would otherwise be inaccessible to many. A communication board can be an invaluable addition to a library, helping to bridge the communication gap between all patrons, regardless of their ability to use speech, and staff and creating a welcoming, accessible environment for all. Additionally, a communication board can help patrons with communication challenges express their needs, wants, and questions more easily.

Purchasing a communication board:

If you are interested in making your library accessible, you may purchase our library communication board. You may purchase the base communication board without any customization directly on our website. Shipping is completely free. 

 

Here is the link:

About the Board

  1. Material options:
  2. Plastic: Durable plastic signs printed with UV ink on 6MM PVC plastic (sintra). Long-lasting signs for indoor or outdoor use! 
  3. Wooden: Weather resistant wooden signs printed using a four-color UV printing process on high-density fiberboard. Eco-friendly, weather, fade and abrasion resistant UV ink. .5” thick (about the thickness of 127 sheets of copy paper)
  4. Customizations:
    1. Logo: Our team is able to customize the board with your library location, name and logo.
    2. Vocabulary: If your library has special events, or environmental differences from most libraries we can customize the words on the communication board. For example, if you are in a library with 2 stories, we can add the words ” upstairs” or ” downstairs” to the board.
  5. Funding the Board

    If the library lacks funds to add the communication board. We believe several organizations would accept a grant proposal to cover the cost of the board. Alternatively, crowdfunding campaigns have been very successful in the past. Local businesses have sponsored boards to parks with us. We can help brainstorm ways to get it funded.

    We do accept purchase orders.

    Conclusion

    A communication board addition is the single most important investment you can make to provide an inclusive environment for non-speaking children, while offering any learner access to learning important library vocabulary.

    Our team can help customize the board with special vocabulary addition, or even by adding the name of your library to the board.

    Feel free to reach out to me directly. As my goal is always to help break communication barriers!

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