Libraries are such wonderful places for children to learn, to read, to explore, even to socialize. All of us parents welcome ’story time’ and the explorative nature of books and computers at our local branch. But for parents and caregivers of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, the library is not always an inclusive environment.
Recently, The Autism BC Lending Library re-opened in the Goodlife Fitness Family Autism Hub in Richmond, BC. The library was designed with accessibility in mind. In the physical space for example, they have iPads loaded with games designed for their disability, and spaces have comfortable bean bag chairs for when there is story time.
This is wonderful news for families who often fear and face judgements when they take their children to a standard public library.
Autism BC’s Librarian Sabrina Gurniak says, “Our aim is to provide individuals and families with a safe space where people on the autism spectrum can become familiar with library programs, giving them the confidence to access other programs and services available in many of BC’s wonderful public libraries.”
This is wonderful news because adaptations that happen out there in the world can only bring inclusivity to those who may need some special assistance. Those adaptations are happening all around us.
One of the ways that learning has adapted over the years is in the field of distance learning – particularly university distance education. The Canadian Virtual University, an association of accredited Canadian universities specializing in distance and online education, understands all about the need for flexibility in learning.
For those with a physical, psychological or learning disability; a chronic illness; or visual or hearing impairment, that flexibility can ensure a much better chance at educational success. Distance education offers students:
- the ability to study at their own pace
- email and phone contact with their teacher
- additional time to complete a course or exam
- contact with fellow students online or by phone
In addition to that, many of the courses can be started at any time of the year, and some offer open admission requirements.
The adaptations that can be accommodated by most of the CVU participating universities can include help to assist with learning and the completion of course work.
Athabasca University, for example, states on their website that they can assist with:
- providing academic accommodations
- arranging learning support service
- gaining access to and training for assistive technology
- obtaining alternative format for course materials
- providing information regarding course management
It is forward thinking to provide accommodations to those of us who need a bit of adaptation in order to enjoy learning in ways that work for us. Learning is a right for all, and the benefits of inclusion as a whole are vast and wonderful.
The Autism BC Lending Library maintains a comprehensive lending library on a variety of topics surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
CVU-UVC universities collectively offer over 2,000 courses and 400 programs which students can easily search from a single website.