On March 9, 2017, the members of the Library Services to Persons with Special Needs (LSN) met at GallaudetUniversity, in Washington, D.C. (USA) for the first day of our two-day Midyear Meeting.  The first day served as an opportunity to begin the process of revising our standards on service to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf and blind. We invited six speakers, all experts in the field, to present to the group.

Founded in 1864, Gallaudet University is an American Liberal Arts institution for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. This offered an ideal environment for LSN as we begin our work in revising the standards for this special population.

The presenters at the workshop included:

Marie-Noëlle Andissac, Conservateur, Mediathèque José Cabanis, Toulouse (France)
Sandy Cohen, Director, Library Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Nashville, TN (USA)
Susan Cohen, Project Coordinator, Maryland Deaf Cultural Digital Library (USA)
Marti Goddard, Access Services Manager, San Francisco Public Library (USA)
Sarah Hamrick, Director, Library Public Services, Gallaudet University, (USA)
Janice Rosen, Deaf Services Librarian, DC Public Library (USA)

Sandy Cohen presented to the group the elements that make a successful library for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. That is: a vision for the mission of the project, the proper infrastructure, a core group of services, relevant and useful programming for your patrons, partnerships with stakeholders in your community, staff who are knowledgeable to the needs of your patrons, and funding. Ms. Cohen operated a one-of-a-kind library for people who are deaf in Tennessee. It serves deaf and hard of hearing patrons state wide through the internet and mail.

Susan Cohen discussed the work of the Maryland Deaf Cultural Digital Library. This is a project in its early stages to document the history and cultural of Maryland residents who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Marti Goddard presented on the San Francisco Public Library’s services to people who are deaf or hard of hearing in San Francisco. She discussed the reading room located in the main branch of the library and how it meets the needs of the library’s deaf and hard of hearing patron. She also discussed the collection of material, and assistive technology they maintain and their programming for their unique patron base.

Janice Rosen discussed her work with the DC Public Library and how they meet the needs of their patrons by having accessible communication technology on site for people who are deaf to use. In addition, she educated LSN members about the DCPL’s meeting room for the deaf which has an FM loop system that is able to interface with assistive auditory devices. She also discussed the popular American Sign Language courses which she coordinates at DCPL.

Marie-Noëlle Andissac presented on the Toulouse Public Library’s services to people who are deaf or hard of hearing: assistive technology , free phone box in sign langage, cultural programs and collections in sign langage…  She also discussed how they promote « deaf culture » and sign language in this town where there is a big deaf community.

She presented also the experience of the «deaf departments» in 5 Paris Public Libraries’and how they work to include deaf librarians in the staff.

At the conclusion of the workshop, LSN members, using the information they had just learned, began brainstorming ideas for the new set of standards. Two members of the standing committee noted the ideas from the group on a whiteboard.


SC Members:
Anne Sieberns
Christopher J. Corrigan
Erlend Ra
Heidi Carlsson Asplund
Knut M. Nygaard
Marie Engberg Eiriksson
Marrie-Noelle Andissac
Nancy Bolt
Misako Nomura

Through Internet
Dunja Marija Gabriel (Croatia)
Maela Uvodic (Croatia)

Appendix: Summary of Discussion Following the Workshop

The group decided to do over with new outline rather than just revise current guidelines, old ones are 17 years old. 

For these guidelines, we want to use best practices where possible, link to website

It’s necessary to change the tone of current guidelines (too negative) for a more positive approach

Each chapter will be written by one of the Working Group members (except for the chapter on Human Rights, written by Anne Sieberns)

The group expressed an interest in having a video that has people in different countries saying a few words in their local sign language:  welcome to the library, hello, thank you, good bye.  We would like to use new technology as part of the Guidelines.

Working Group

Co-chairs – Marie-Noelle Andissac  and Dunja Gabriel

Maela Rakocevic Uvodic
Sarah Hamrick
Marti Goddard
Susan Cohen
Sandy Cohen

We will look for other members