Monday, March 13, 2017

ADA Accommodations at APK State Library, Archives, and Museum

When we moved into our new building, we wanted to make everyone feel welcome, including people with disabilities. Our Division's ADA coordinator worked with Assistive Technology of Alaska to select devices and equipment for our visitors with mobility issues, cognitive disabilities, deaf or hard of hearing, and low vision.

Unlike our old space in the State Office Building, the door of Reading Room at APK has an activator button, and we can keep the doors propped open so it's easy to navigate in a wheelchair. There is an accessible restroom on the first floor, as well as large stalls in all the restrooms. We also have wheelchairs, a rollator, and two cane seats available for use within our facility. At our public computers, we have adjustable height desks and the option to use a trackball mouse.
Located right outside our door, this button will open the door to the Reading Room. Kids have been impressed that there are no visible wires attached.

Hard of hearing visitors can request a pocket talker to communicate with staff or amplify a presentation or tour. The visitor wears a set of headphones and the presenter speaks into an amplifier about the size of a deck of cards. There are also desk amplifiers on the Library's front desk and the Museum's reception desk for people with T-coil hearing aids. Deaf and hard of hearing visitors can request a sign language interpreter for any programs or events at the APK with at least five days notice by calling 465-2910.
If a visitor has a hearing aid with a T-coil, they can activate it while talking to us at our reception desks. This enables us to communicate discreetly with hard of hearing visitors without yelling.
Thanks to our volunteers, we are actively adding captions to all of the videos that we post on our YouTube channel. Although auto-captioning has improved a lot in recent years, we still have to manually create captions for some videos. We are using amara.org's web editor to create manual captions, and although the process is slow, we prioritize the videos for which patrons have requested captions.

One very low-tech tool that we've implemented are communication boards. They are single, laminated pages with images for commonly asked questions or items, like restroom, elevator, water fountain, or help. We had a speech therapist come through last summer and she was thrilled to see one of these cards at the Library's desk.
This communication board helps overcome communication difficulties of all kinds, from language barriers to hearing impairments.

For people with low vision, we have a large print option on our public computers and large print keyboards with bright yellow keys and larger labels. These keyboards are not very expensive and have been popular with our low vision users. We also have digital magnifiers that magnify up to 13.5x and have been especially good for looking at detailed materials like topographical maps.
High contrast, large print keyboards like this have been a hit with our low vision users.
The Pebble digital magnifier makes small words and images more readable. I noticed much more detail on these topo maps when I tried it out.

We administer the Talking Books program for Alaska, providing audiobooks and Braille books for Alaskans who can't use standard print books. It is a free service that supplies special playback equipment and delivers books and magazines postage-free. If you or someone you know might benefit from this service, you can find out more at http://talkingbooks.alaska.gov/ or by calling 1-888-820-4525.

If you need accommodation to visit or enjoy your state library, archives, and museum, please contact us to make arrangements. Contact info is available at http://lam.alaska.gov.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Why can't I just call it SLAM?

Here at the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum, we're having a bit of an identity crisis, in that nobody knows how to identify us. Since the early phases of our new facility project, the building has been called SLAM, an acronym of State Library, Archives, and Museum. I've always liked SLAM. It's easy to remember and fun to say. When I worked as a SLAM Project Assistant, I received an email that I had "the coolest job title ever."

Now that construction is finished and we have an official name, we've transitioned away from SLAM to the APK, an initialism of Andrew Petrovich Kashevaroff, our eponym. We usually have to add "formerly known as SLAM" for anyone to know where we're talking about, but we hope that it'll catch on with time. Father Kashevaroff was the first curator and librarian of the Alaska Territorial Library and Museum, which eventually evolved into the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum. He gave 20 years to this institution and laid the foundation for everything that we do. It's an honor to be part of his legacy. So if you're headed to our beautiful building, help us out and call it the APK.
Studio portrait of Kashevaroff taken by Calvin Studio in Sitka, circa 1934. The caption reads, "The Very Reverend A.P. Kashevaroff, Curator and Librarian of the Alaska Territorial Museum and Library in Juneau." Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 243-3-005.
Father Kashevaroff and another man with a large spruce round in the Alaska Territorial Library and Museum. This object is currently on view in the timber section of the Alaska State Museum. Alaska State Library Historical Collections - PCA 243-3-008.

Or, if you want to be official, you can go with the whole mouthful: The Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum. And if you're unsure about how to pronounce it, you're not alone. Although Russian-speakers might cringe, we say it: