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Wednesday, June 8 • 11:00am - 11:30am
Lightning Talks! Bridging the Gap from an Autistic Perspective & Building A Better E-Book Accessibility Audit

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Bridging the Gap from an Autistic Perspective:

Offering so much more than books, libraries provide a safe sanctuary within a community. They unite people with information, programs, resources, and community supports. The library serves individuals of every age, ethnicity, socioeconomic background and learning abilities access information. Let’s look at the Bridging the Gap through the lens of an autistic library user.

G – Great little spaces
A – Adult Programming
P – Products

The experience at a local library for an autistic individual or family can be enhanced by great little sensory-friendly spaces. These areas should be easily accessible and can be a safe haven for library guests. These calming places could provide an array of sensory products to help those with sensory sensitivities.
The library offers a wonderful array of programs; however, many are for younger children and seems to focus less on young adults and teens. It is worth noting that some young adults with diverse abilities enjoy a variety of activities that target a younger audience.

By products, we are referring to the books that neatly line the library shelves. For some older teens and adults with autism, their interest may mirror their peers, however their reading ability is that of a younger individual. In many libraries, these readers must enter the children’s section of the library to find titles they are able to read.

Building A Better E-Book Accessibility Audit:

My project involved creating an audit that would allow the library to more fully understand the accessibility needs of their users and test if those needs are being met by the databases and e-books within our catalogue.

The project summarizes the background of other accessibility audits I learned from and built upon, and the way I attempted to solve the challenges presented by audits of the past; including the difficulty with testing certain features such as text-to-speech, and the time commitment required to complete audits in one session while balancing other work.

With the use of Dalhousie’s Opinio software I was able to create an audit with sophisticated branching that could output the answers to Excel. This frees auditors from data input, allowing more time for data interpretation. Opinio as an audit tool is also useable on a variety of devices including computers, smartphones and tablets.


Kelly Vassaur

Inclusion & Adult Support Coordinator, Autism Nova Scotia
Kelly works with Autism Nova Scotia in the Family Support department. She is the Inclusion &Adult Support Coordinator and is the mom of an autistic young adult who loves her local library.

Sam Schwanak (they/them)

Graduate Student, Dalhousie University
Sam is a non-binary autistic librarian from the east coast. They are interested in accessibility, intersectionality and social justice in the Information Management field.

Wednesday June 8, 2022 11:00am - 11:30am ADT
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