Update from the Deaf Culture Forum at ALA Midwinter

For Immediate Release
Wed, 02/19/2020


Ninah Moore

Program Officer-Continuing Education


(312) 280-4398


Deaf and hard of hearing adults and children are part of our communities. How are libraries welcoming and including them? This question and others were raised and discussed during the Deaf Culture Forum, sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA)/Association of Specialized, Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA) and Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action (FOLDA), held on January 24, 2020 during the 2020 ALA Midwinter meeting.

A brief “History of the Deaf Community and Libraries; and Stages of Building the Deaf Culture Digital Library” introduced Deaf and hearing members of the audience to inequities in deaf education and barriers to inclusion. The development of Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library, established by state law in 2014, was described as a slow process of collaborating and building partnerships for statewide service. Additional highlights of the event included presentations on inclusion of the Deaf in programs from state libraries, local public libraries, university, and school libraries.

We heard from Deaf leaders and advocates who added advice to the library community:

  • Use language that identifies people as Deaf or Deaf and Hard of Hearing instead of “hearing impaired.”
  • For the 90 percent of deaf children with hearing parents, include a sign language or an interpreted story time, for the deaf child and parents to have peers and meet others who use sign language.
  • Seek out titles for the collection that reflect Deaf culture for children, young adults, and adults
  • Ask a Deaf patron how to best communicate. Explore the use of technology assist group and individual communication. See if video remote interpreting (VRI) is an option.
  • Consider a display or program for Deaf History Month, March 13th and continues until April 15th, possibly with Deaf organizations or groups in the community.

The PowerPoints and captioning transcripts with additional documents are now available in the Recommended Resources/Deaf on ASGCLADirect.

Conversations will continue at the ALA Annual Meeting in Chicago, June 25-30, 2020. More information to come!

The Association of Specialized, Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA) is a division of the American Library Association. ASGCLA is the premier destination for membes to find information and build capacity to serve populations that are served by state library agencies, federal libraries, armed forces libraries, specialized libraries, library cooperatives, library networks and library consultants among others. ASGCLA focuses on providing a voice and advocating for libraries serving populations that are underserved such as those with sensory, physical, health or behavioral conditions, those who are incarcerated or detained and more. Member activity is centered around our interest groups.