to the MELSA disability awareness resources page!
Maintained by the MELSA Accessibility Task Force
This page includes:
- Links to videos, apps, tip sheets, webinars, quizzes, articles, and other documents that address general customer service topics to better serve persons with various disabilities as they access library resources and services.
- Organizations to contact for more in-depth information and assistance.
- Information for staff and patrons about access to assistive technology from local organizations and at each library system. Links to helpful apps and other digital content are also included.
We hope both new and experienced staff will find the content on the site informative and inspiring. It will continue to evolve as training needs and additional resources are identified.
COVID-19 Information—MN Council on Disability guidance
MN Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services— Communication while wearing masks
MN Department of Healthopens PDF file — Best Practices for Masks: Considerations for People with Disabilities and Special Health Needs
Job Accommodation Network— FAQ: COVID-19 Vaccination and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Information for anyone:
opens in a new windowPeople First Language – Articles about using People First language which encourages a focus on the person before the disability
opens in a new windowResponding to Disability – Minnesota Council on Disability (MCD) produces publications to inform people about a variety of disability issues such as employment, disability awareness, and emergency preparedness. (38 pages with pictures, 13 questions, and answers)
opens in a new windowDisability Etiquette – Tips On Interacting With People With Disabilities (36 pages)
opens in a new windowDisability Sensitivity – Informative instruction video on how to interact with people with disabilities. (03:00)
opens in a new windowTips for Customer Service – True/false quiz to help you make the best choices when meeting someone with a disability. (11 questions)
opens in a new windowDisability Etiquette Handouts – Best practices for providing excellent customer service. (1-3 pages each)
opens in a new windowCustomer Service Tips – Tips for interacting with persons with various types of disabilities, service animals, assistive devices and/or support persons, and what you need to know when talking to persons with disabilities over the phone. (12 topics, each less than 1 page)
opens in a new windowDisability Etiquette in the Workplace from Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
ADA Training Resources – a variety of training opportunities to increase your knowledge of the ADA.
Inclusive Presentation Skills – tips for delivering more inclusive presentations. Feb 1, 2018, MSFTEnable – Microsoft YouTube Channel, Published on Sep 4, 2018 (2:16)
BuzzFeed FYI – Things People Living with Disabilities have to say – Listen to what they have to say. (4:05)
opens in a new windowADA National Network – “At Your Service: Welcoming Customers with Disabilities” is a self-paced webcourse for people interested in discovering best practices for working with customers you have disabilities. (Free, but setup of a login is required; includes pre-test, 15 topics that can be completed individually, and post test.)
opens in a new windowUniversal Library Access – Making Library Resources Accessible to People with Disabilities. (~ 3 pages)
opens in a new windowPANDA Minnesota Adult Basic Education Disability Specialists
opens in a new windowProject Enable – Professional online development for teachers, librarians
opens in a new windowDeveloping Inclusive Library Services to Adults with Disabilities webinar from Renee Grassi at Dakota County Library (please note that using Google Chrome may work best for viewing)
opens in a new windowLibrary Service to Special Population Children and their Caregivers: A Toolkit for Librarians and Library Workersopens PDF file – Created by ALSC Committee for Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers (Chapter 16 – pages 16-20, and Chapter 32 – pages 31-35)
Finding help for all disabilities
State and Local:
opens in a new windowDisability Hub MN — Free statewide resource network that helps you solve problems, navigate the system and plan for your future.
opens in a new windowMN Department of Human Services Resources — Helping people live as independently as possible so they can continue to be a part of the communities in which they live.
opens in a new windowDisability Minnesota — A single entry point to over 100 Minnesota state agency programs, products, and services that are devoted to the range of disability issues.
opens in a new windowMinnesotaHelp.info — Services for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and for their families and representatives.
opens in a new windowMinnesota Council on Disability — Minnesota’s premiere disability-related technical resource.
opens in a new windowPacer Center Resources — Assistance to individual families, workshops, materials for parents and professionals.
opens in a new windowMinnesota Disability Law Center — Addresses the unique legal needs of Minnesotans with disabilities.
opens in a new windowMinnesota STAR Program (Minnesota Department of Administration)
opens in a new windowDeaf and Hard of Hearing Services (Minnesota Department of Human Services)
opens in a new windowACT on Alzheimer’s (Dementia Friends)
opens in a new windowProject Enable — Professional online development for teachers, librarians
opens in a new windowPANDA — Minnesota Adult Basic Education Disability Specialists
opens in a new windowADA Information and Technical Assistance — Information and technical assistance for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
opens in a new windowGreat Lakes ADA Center — Training in a variety of formats to meet the needs of individuals with diverse learning styles.
opens in a new windowThe Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) — The only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.
ADA Training Resources – a variety of training opportunities to increase your knowledge of the ADA.
opens in a new windowDevelopmental Disability Services — Information on resources available.
opens in a new windowCarver County Health and Human Services — services and programs designed to protect and maintain the health and welfare of County residents.
opens in a new windowEncore Adult Day Services Program — Services designed to meet the needs of adults who are in need of assistance, support and monitoring.
opens in a new windowMnCHOICES — A single, comprehensive assessment, and support planning web-based application for long-term services and supports in Minnesota.
Aging and Disability Services — Community Living Services for people of all ages and abilities.
opens in a new windowDevelopmental Disabilities Services — Social Services determines eligibility for services and assesses the needs of adults and children with developmental disabilities.
opens in a new windowAdult Mental Health — Phone numbers for adult mental health resources and assessment.
opens in a new windowChildren’s Mental Health — Assesment services and resources.
opens in a new windowAutism Spectrum Disorder — Resources, links and community connection toolkit.
County’s ASD Resources & Links page — Links to resources, learning modules, and toolkits.
opens in a new windowServices for people with disabilities — List of resources for people with disabilities and their families.
opens in a new windowPeople with Disabilities — Resources list for independent living.
opens in a new windowMental & Behavioral Health — Comprehensive intake and behavioral health services.
opens in a new windowHealth Services — List of all health services.
opens in a new windowHealth & Human Services — List of all health and human services.
opens in a new windowMental Health Center — An outpatient community mental health clinic which provides diagnostic assessment, therapy, and consultation services.
opens in a new windowDisabilities Adult/Child/Senior and Developmental — A list of county resources.
opens in a new windowConnect Washington County Assistive Technology Resources — Assistive Technology Resources for Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities.
opens in a new windowCommunity Resource Guide: Adult/Disabilities Division — Resource guide for the community.
Information for anyone:
opens in a new windowPerkins School – Tips for Working with Individuals with Visual Impairments (3 min)
opens in a new windowLearning About Blindness — Interacting with patrons with vision impairments (6 min).
opens in a new windowBlindness and Low Vision: What You Need to Knowopens PDF file — The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of the American Library Association, is the premier destination for ALA members to find information and build capacity to serve populations that are served by state library agencies, libraries serving special populations, library cooperatives, and library consultants. (4 min)
opens in a new windowAmerican Federation for the Blind – Technology Resources for People with Vision Loss (1 min)
opens in a new windowState Library Services for the Blind — MN Employment and Economic Development State Services for the Blind Library services resource. (2 min)
opens in a new windowInformation on State Assistance — Assistance for Minnesotans who are blind, DeafBlind, losing vision, or who have another disability that makes it difficult to read print. (5 min)
opens in a new windowVision Loss Resources — Videos on living with vision loss homepage. (1 min)
opens in a new windowMinnesota Braille and Talking Book Library — Providing direct library services to preschool age children to seniors with visual, physical and reading disabilities for whom conventional print is a barrier to reading. (2 min)
opens in a new windowNational Federation of the Blind of Minnesota — The state’s largest and oldest organization of the blind. It provides self-help programs for blind people of all ages and activities. (2 min)
opens in a new windowBlindness: Learning In New Dimensions (BLIND), Inc. — Nationally-renowned training center for blind individuals of all ages. (2 min)
opens in a new windowResources for visually impaired/blind seniors — from State Services for the Blind. (2 min)
Information for anyone:
opens in a new windowNIDCD Hearing, Ear Infections and Deafness — The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders offers information on hearing-related diseases and conditions as well as devices and services for people with hearing loss.
opens in a new windowHearing Loss — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on hearing loss in infants and children and on hearing loss prevention.
opens in a new windowDeafBlind 101 — An Introduction to Combined Hearing and Vision Loss (Web Tutorial, 86 pages)
opens in a new windowTPT: Hearing Loss Matters — Age-related hearing loss is more than a personal inconvenience; it’s a public health issue with wide-ranging social impacts. Learn why directly from those affected by hearing loss as they explore communication and treatment options. Not compatible with Internet Explorer. (26:40)
opens in a new windowHearing Assistive Technology — The Hearing Loss Association of America offers a series of captioned videos on hearing assistive technology as well as other information on hearing loss. (9 videos)
- Technology in the Workplace (2:09)
- Technology for Patients (2:51)
- Technology for Retirement and Leisure Time (2:00)
- Assistive Listening Technology (3:10)
- Large-Area Assistive Listening Systems (2:26)
- Assistive Listening Devices for the Phone (2:26)
- Alert Systems for People with Hearing Loss (2:00)
- Captions for People with Hearing Loss (3:08)
- Assistive Listening Solutions for Work (2:40)
opens in a new windowHandspeak – Find an ASL dictionary, topics related to sign language, and a free app at Handspeak.
opens in a new windowAmerican Sign Language University – Free ASL lessons, with video demonstrations of signs and ASL teaching materials.
opens in a new windowStartASL.com — This site offers free ASL lessons and downloadable workbooks as well as paid courses.
opens in a new windowApps for Learning ASL — List of the best apps for learning sign language.
Resource for learning beginning ASL aimed at a child audience, including a 100-word sign language dictionary and videos on signing about subjects such as school, colors, and animals. Also offers a free app with in-app purchases.
opens in a new windowDeaf Community and Culture and Best Practices for Libraries — This webinar from the San Jose State University School of Information features presentations on Deaf history, community, and culture, and a discussion of best practices for library services to the Deaf community. (webinar, 2 hrs.)
opens in a new windowWorking with deaf patrons — Tips to help you determine the best approach for communicating with deaf patrons individually and in programs. From Gallaudet University.
opens in a new windowMinnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division — Services and information to help Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing and their families.
opens in a new windowOrganizations of and for People Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing — Directory of national and non-profit organizations of and for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. From Gallaudet University.
opens in a new windowCharles Thompson Memorial Hall — Connect with the deaf community at Charles Thompson Memorial Hall, one of the oldest Deaf Clubs in the world.
Interacting with people with hearing impairments:
opens in a new windowMDHHS Deaf Culture and You Video — Illustrates the mainstays and nuances of Deaf Culture, with a focus on understanding the “whats and whys” as well as expectations. Presented by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. (video 3:32)
opens in a new windowCommunication Tips — This video demonstrates some things that you can do to communicate more effectively with someone who is deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. From the Minnesota DHHSD. (video 7:15)
opens in a new windowCommunication Tips: When Talking on the Phone with People who are Hard of Hearing — This video has practical examples of how to communicate with someone with a hearing loss on the phone, using a role play of a hard of hearing customer calling to order a pizza. From the Minnesota DHHSD. (video 9:04)
Last reviewed May 2022.
Information for anyone:
opens in a new windowAmputee Coalition Fact Sheet — Information detailing the trends and most current rates of amputation and diabetes in Minnesota.
opens in a new windowNational Stroke Association Bookletopens PDF file — A Practical step-by-step booklet that explains how a stroke happens, different types of stroke and how to prevent a stroke.
opens in a new windowPresentation for NYLA by the United Spinal Associationopens PDF file — Information on how to determine whether your library is in compliance with 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards. (52 slides)
opens in a new window12 Tips on Helping Customers with Disabilities — Composed by the National Disability Authority (NDA), an independent statutory body provides information and advice to the Government on policy and practice relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities.
opens in a new windowInteracting with Persons with Physical Disabilities — Practical tips for interacting with persons with physical disabilities from the Council of Ontario Universities.
opens in a new windowMetropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) — MCIL Advocacy Program to assist people who have any sort of disability.
opens in a new windowMinnesota Spinal Cord Injury Association (MNSCIA) — Committed to enriching the lives of people in Minnesota who have been impacted by spinal cord injury or paralysis.
opens in a new windowMinnesota Stroke Association — Offering services and support in a variety of categories.
opens in a new windowUnited Spinal Association — Dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, and providing support and information to loved ones, care providers and professionals.
Interacting with people with physical challenges:
opens in a new windowDisability Etiquette — Tips On Interacting With People With Disabilities (36 pages)
Information for Anyone:
opens in a new windowMN Department of Health– Supporting Mental Well-being During COVID-19 (3 pages)
opens in a new windowMN Department of Human Services – Adult mental health services (2 pages)
opens in a new windowMental Health America – Mental health information on an extensive list of topics. (6 pages)
opens in a new windowMentalhealth.gov – Mental health information from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (6 pages)
opens in a new windowMN Association for Children’s Mental Health – Mental health resources by topic. (4 pages)
opens in a new windowNAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota: resources on mental health topics and issues. (10 pages)
opens in a new windowNational Center for Access Unlimitedopens PDF file – Ten Commandments of Interacting with People with Mental Health Disabilities (2 pages)
opens in a new windowNational Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – NIMH, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research on mental health. (2 pages)
opens in a new windowPsychology Today – Article on strategies for communicating effectively with people with mental illness. (7 pages)
opens in a new windowTED Talks – A collection of TED Talks (and more) on the topic of mental health. (24 videos; 6 hours, 11 minutes total)
opens in a new windowCaring for the Mind: Providing Mental Health Information At Your Library – Resources from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (scroll down for 57 minute video)
opens in a new windowHealthy Day Article – Tips for librarians on protecting themselves against patrons who are troubled or violent. (4 pages)
opens in a new windowLibraries as Mental Health Hubs – Article from the American Psychological Association. (7 pages)
opens in a new windowMental Illness in the Libraryopens PDF file – 10 tips for improving services to and relationships with patrons with mental illness. (4 pages)
opens in a new windowReducing the Stigma of Mental Health at the Library – article from the American Library Association Public Programs Office. (4 pages)
Video series by the California State Library:
opens in a new windowMental Health First Aid – support and resources for people with mental health or substance use problems. (4 pages)
opens in a new windowNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline — National network of local crisis centers providing free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (4 pages)
opens in a new windowUnited Way 2-1-1 – Search a database of contact information for organizations and agencies offering mental health help in Minnesota as well as other health and human services. (5 pages)
County Crisis Lines:
opens in a new windowAnoka County Crisis Line – 763-755-3801 (2 pages)
opens in a new windowCarver County Crisis Line – 952-442-7601 (1 page)
opens in a new windowDakota County Crisis Line – 952-891-7171 (2 pages)
opens in a new windowHennepin County Crisis Line – 612-596-1223 (adults) 612-348-2233 (children) (6 pages)
opens in a new windowRamsey County Crisis Line – 651-266-7900 (adults) 651-266-4500 (children) (1 page)
opens in a new windowScott County Crisis Line – Mental Health Crisis 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM call 952-496-8481 for crisis appointment during business hours. 4:30 PM to 8:00 AM call 952-818-3702 for Scott County Crisis Response mobile services. (3 pages)
Intellectual / Developmental / Cognitive
Information for everyone:
opens in a new windowThe Arc: Autism Now — Autism Now fact sheets on topics of importance to people with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. ( ~10 pages)
opens in a new windowTourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence. It is part of the spectrum of Tic Disorders and is characterized by motor and vocal tics. Website, number of pages, some articles-varying lengths, some videos-most about 3 minutes long, some 30 minutes or more.
opens in a new windowUniversity of Illinois Library libguide to Tourette’s — A Resource Guide from the University of Illinois on Tourette’s syndrome with suggested reads, websites, databases, and assistive technology. Some links are to sources at the University of Illinois so may need to be checked to see whether access is available in Minnesota.
opens in a new windowAmazing Things – Animated shorts on Down’s Syndrome, Dyslexia, and Autism, each video 3-5 min.
opens in a new windowDevelopmental Disabilities Association Video — Developmental disability awareness video.(02:50)
opens in a new windowA Day in the Life — An Educational resource about the experiences of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. (03:26)
opens in a new windowIntroduction to Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities – The Arc Minnesota (44:41)
opens in a new windowLearning About Learning Disabilities — The Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto District (LDATD) video on learning disabilities. (09:39)
opens in a new windowNot Special Needs – This PSA, created for World Down Syndrome Day by Italian nonprofit CoorDown, explains why the expression “special needs” doesn’t make much sense. (2:00)
opens in a new windowCerebral Palsy Foundation: Just Say “Hi” — A PSA on the importance of communicating respectfully with all people. (2:00)
The “ opens in a new windowMany Faces of Autism” course, free through the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, describes characteristics of autism spectrum disorder and highlights simple strategies and skills for interacting with people with autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. (90 minutes) Access to additional course available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org new email to request a free subscription.
opens in a new windowLibrary Programs for Teens with Disabilities Presented by Renee Grassi from Dakota County Library, Joe Houlihan from St. Paul Public Library, and Gao Yang from St. Paul Public Library (5/9/17) — Learn about providing teens with disabilities a great experience in your library. Gain insights on how to adjust for potential barriers and ways to be inclusive and engaging. See examples of tools and apps. (1:31:25)
Webinars and papers:
opens in a new windowMemory Care and Technology — A PLA on-demand webinar on Innovative Ideas to Reach Senior and Alzheimer’s Communities.
opens in a new windowRails: Inclusive Programming — Free webinar on developing inclusive library programming. This webinar will provide participants with the tools to make basic, yet effective changes to their programming in order to create an inclusive library atmosphere for adults with developmental disabilities.
opens in a new windowLibrary Services for Patrons with Alzheimer’s/Dementia — A guide on how to create programs, services and provide resources to better serve those with dementia.
The easy to use opens in a new window My House of Memories: US app is free and allows you to explore objects from the past and share memories together. It can be used by anyone, but has been designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their caregivers.
opens in a new windowUnderstanding the Diversity of Library Customer Needs — The Ontario Library Association provides a tactful and common sense approach to recognizing that some patrons require different means of accessing information.
opens in a new windowMNDA Council on Developmental Disabilities — Information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self-determination, integration, and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
opens in a new windowMN Disability Benefits 101 — Disability Benefits 101 helps people with disabilities learn how income may impact benefits so they can make informed choices, reduce fears, and ensure work is part of the plan. (website)
opens in a new windowMNEED Vocational Resources — Assistance with preparing for, finding and keeping a job, and living as independently as possible. (website)
opens in a new windowThe Arc: MN Disability Programs & Resources — Listing of programs and resources in Minnesota for those with disabilities.
opens in a new windowPACER: Disability Organizations Resource Listopens PDF file — List of disability organizations is updated annually by PACER Center. (14 pages)
opens in a new windowDementia Friends — Global advocacy changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia. (website)
Interacting with people with intellectual/developmental/cognitive disabilities:
opens in a new windowCommunicating with People with Disabilities — Effective communication practices. (1 webpage with some links)
opens in a new windowAccessible Customer Service Brochureopens PDF file — Serving customers with intellectual or developmental, learning or mental health disabilities guide from the University of Windsor. (2 pages)
opens in a new windowPeople With Intellectual Disabilities: A Digital Story — Video addressing the stigmas of people with intellectual disabilities to build public awareness. (03:28)
opens in a new windowNational Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) Disability Awareness video – Tips to remember when working with individuals with an intellectual disability. (02:15)
Devices & Software
Information for anyone:
System of Technology to Achieve Results (STAR) within the Minnesota Department of Administration links:
opens in a new windowUnderstanding Assistive Technology
opens in a new windowDevice Loan
opens in a new windowTools for the Future
opens in a new windowSimon Technology Lending Library – Pacer Center
ADA Training Resources – a variety of training opportunities to increase your knowledge of the ADA.
opens in a new windowAT3 Center – News & Tips
Easterseals Crossroads: Taking on Disability together – Three podcasts (AT Update, Accessibility Minute, AT FAQ) plus Tip Tech videos
opens in a new windowAssistive Technology Planning – Technology for HOME (T4H) offers a team approach to person-centered assistive technology (AT) consultation and technical assistance to help individuals with disabilities live more independently.
opens in a new windowAssistive Technology Coalition – Information on technology that makes life accessible for people with disabilities.
opens in a new windowThe Center For Accessible Technology – focused on access to computers and technology for people with disabilities.
opens in a new windowThe Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) – is a multi-faceted initiative to foster collaboration and action around accessible technology in the workplace.
opens in a new windowLynda.com Accessibility Tutorial – Overview of assistive technology equipment.
opens in a new windowCenter on Technology and Disability – Webinar including AT information for libraries.
Additional resources for staff professional development (fees or membership may be required):
opens in a new windowClosing the Gap – Conference, online Webinars and news
Apps and Other Digital Content:
Accessibility for Computers and Documents:
opens in a new windowWindows Access Customizing Windows 10 for Accessibility and Ease of Access
opens in a new windowMicrosoft – Information and online training on built-in accessibility features as well as information on assistive technologies.
opens in a new windowApple – Information on built-in accessibility features as well as information on assistive technologies.
opens in a new windowIntroduction to Disability and Accessibility (audio described version) – This is an adapted training course to introduce people to the concepts and terminology used around disability and accessibility in the workplace. MSFTEnable – Microsoft YouTube Channel, 5/17/2018
opens in a new windowAudio Descriptions – At a Glance – This video is an introduction to audio descriptions and explains what they are, why they matter to people who are blind, and what are some best practices for including them in videos. (2:03) MSFTEnable – Microsoft YouTube Channel, 9/4/2018
opens in a new windowText Alternatives – At a Glance– An overview of text alternatives and explains what they are, how long they should be, and when they are not needed. (1:46) MSFTEnable – Microsoft YouTube Channel, 9/4/2018
Apps for All Disabilities:
opens in a new windowiFocus Apple App Tips – Using the vision accessibility features on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
opens in a new windowTop Apps at Vision Loss Resourcesopens WORD file – List of apps for assisting those with vision loss. (Word Document, 4 pages/11 apps)
opens in a new windowEquipment Apps for Apple and Androidopens WORD file – Equipment Apps for Apple and Android recommended by blind user group at Central Library. (Word Document, 2 pages/15 apps)
Accessible Mobile Apps – Living with Vision Loss – resources
Smartphone Apps and Resources for People with Vision Loss or Impairment National Council for Safety, Protection and Wellness resources
opens in a new windowEasterseals Blog: taking on disability together – 7 apps for kids with developmental disabilities to help at school.
opens in a new windowShepard Center Resources – List of apps that can be useful to people with brain injury, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis when used in conjunction with a therapist and therapy program.