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Last week, our library's Deputy Director Melissa Binder and I attended a WCFLS (Waukesha County Federated Library System) Special Needs Committee meeting at our system office in Waukesha.  Moderated by the system's new Public Relations & Special Needs Librarian, Angela Meyers, we gathered to meet with librarians from various Waukesha County member libraries to share ideas on how to better serve our communities. This particular group focuses on what resources we have to share with those in our community who might have special needs. "Special needs"... formally defined as a clinical diagnostic and functional development for individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological, the term is commonly used within the educational system to encompass the spectrum of needs of students from speech & language to physical disabilities.
At the library we are fortunate to be able to see many patrons with "special needs." As we develop programming ideas and services to meet the needs of everyone, our approach is to be inclusive--all patrons fit within our definition of "special needs."  The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction uses the language "special populations" and defines the group specific to library use: "Special populations refer to people of all ages who have difficulty using the library. This includes persons who live in foster care, nursing homes, detention facilities, or who are displaced; people with disabilities; those for whom English is a second language; people with limited literacy or information skills; people who are living in poverty or are homeless; and people in underserved areas or with diverse backgrounds."  Looking at this defintion and then to the diversity within our community, who among us doesn't have a special need?  Our approach is simple. As a library and as librarians, we define less, label less and continue to serve in order to reach the needs of members in all our special populations...which means all of us.
Below are a couple of resources to share that were reviewed at our Special Needs Committee meeting:
Waukesha County Health Literacy Project: Helping individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
Caregiver Connection: helps caregivers identify themselves as the actual caregiver, promote awareness of the many resources and support.
Find a Ride Waukesha (senior taxi): cab fare is subsidized and only costs ~$3.60 each way within the county. call Interfaith Senior Program 262-549-3348

Alzheimer’s Association:  resource center, care consultants, support groups, community presentations.

VisionForward (formerly the Badger Association): provides education, training and support on how to live successfully with changing vision. Optometrist, occupational therapists. Low vision services help you make the most of your remaining vision with the help of proper magnification devices, specialized lighting and contrast enhancement. Vision Forward store – features adaptive vision products – large button phones, talking watches, lamps, accessible software.

ADRC Aging & Disability Resource Center: a single access point for publicly funded long term care in Waukesha County.  The ADRC provides information, assistance, counseling and supportive services for older adults age 60 and above; caregivers; adults with physical or developmental disabilities; and adults with mental health or substance abuse concerns.

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Natalie is the Deputy Director with the New Berlin Public Library... Read More »

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