[Tall-Corn] Important Upcoming Commission Board Meeting

Michael D. Barber m.barber817 at gmail.com
Thu Jul 11 20:22:34 UTC 2019

Please share with anyone who might be interested

In June, The Iowa Department for the Blind announced our intention to change
the name of our library from "The Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped" to "Iowa Library for Accessible Statewide Services." The
reasons for this change are explained in detail below. We feel the selected
name is inclusive and helps people to better understand what our library
does. Our Commission Board and myself have received some push back from
individuals and blindness consumer organizations. They are adamant that the
name must continue to contain the word "blind" and would prefer we use "Iowa
Library for the Blind and Print Disabled" or something similar. Our
Director, Library Director, and members of our leadership team feel that any
such wording would make second class patrons of those we serve who are not
blind and would alienate anyone who does not wish to be labeled "print
disabled." In order to receive public comment, a special meeting of the
Commission Board has been set for Tuesday, July 16 at 9:00 a.m. at Iowa
Department for the Blind. The Call in number is 1-866-685-1580 and the
conference code is 5152811299.  

Those wishing to speak on this issue should complete the Public Comment Form
and submit it prior to the start of the meeting or sign up with the
Commission Secretary prior to the start of the meeting.  Please call Janice
Eggers at 515-281-1336 prior to the meeting. If you would like further
information, feel free to contact me.  

What's in the name? Why the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped is becoming the Iowa Library for Accessible Statewide Services

Why is a name change necessary?
A few weeks ago, the National Library for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped announced that it would be changing its name to The National
Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. The reason for this is that the
word "handicapped", having been created to describe those who held a cap in
their hands to beg for charity - is pretty offensive to many people.
Replacing "Physically Handicapped" with "Print Disabled" removes the
outdated terminology. As a regional library under the National Library
Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the official name of our
library has been The Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
We need to remove the outdated terminology from our name as well.
Why this name?
We have been working on this issue for the past six months while waiting to
see what the National Library would choose for its new name. We looked at
other regional libraries who have already made name changes. " We looked at
other options and wrote and re-wrote lists of potential names. We realized
that we had to make a choice. Our name could either describe who we serve or
it could describe what we do. Every attempt to do both made for unwieldy and
impossible to remember strings of words. Both options had their advantages
and disadvantages. If we went with "The Iowa Library for the Blind and Print
Disabled", we were putting people who can't access standard print for
reasons other than blindness in a box and assigning them a label they may or
may not find inclusive and positive. In addition, going with a description
of who we serve doesn't let other entities know how we can work with them to
support those they serve. This is particularly important in trying to build
relationships with schools, AEAs, and other education related groups. We
came to the conclusion that choosing a name that lets people know what we do
is the better option. We tried out and let go of dozens of names like "Iowa
Library for Braille and Audio Books", "Iowa Library for Audio, Electronic
and Braille Materials", and "Iowa accessible Library." We settled on Iowa
Library for Accessible Statewide Services because we believe it does the
best job describing what we are currently doing and what we will be doing in
the years to come. Each word carries a particular concept that we want to
Iowa: This is our state. This is who we serve and the tax payers who fund
Library: "The library" is what our patrons call us and what we call
ourselves. While our official name will change, it is very unlikely that we
will stop being called "the library." Also this highlights our collection of
braille, audio, and large print materials. It reminds folks that we
circulate reading material such as books, magazines, and newsletters in
alternative formats and loan out equipment like audio players, braille
writers, and soon braille displays.
Accessible: So many people still are unaware of what accessibility is and
why it is so important. We are in the information age and the ability to get
at and use information is key to nearly every job and vital to being engaged
in the world. We need to share our expertise on how to make materials
accessible. We need to encourage and empower content creators to build
accessibility in to the content from the very beginning. We need to help
those choosing learning management systems, applications, and other such
resources to make sure they choose an accessible option and that
accessibility is a key factor in their decision making process.
Statewide: We serve the whole state and we need everyone to know this.
Having "statewide" in our name reminds us that we need to think about the
needs of those living in small towns and cities that are outside the Des
Moines metro and find more ways to connect with those patrons.
Services: First of all, this reminds us that we are here to serve and we are
public servants. Secondly, this highlights the fact that we provide many
different services to people of all ages. We make educational materials
accessible. We have family events, book clubs, braille training, and we are
going to continue to add more and more services as needs arise and we build
our capacity.
We know that there will be folks that are sad, hurt, or worried about the
fact that our new library name does not contain the word "blind" or the word
"braille". We have no intention of trying to hide from, push aside, or
otherwise try to disassociate ourselves from the word "blind". We will
remain relentless and tenacious in our promotion of braille and braille
literacy. The Iowa Library for Accessible Statewide Services is and will
always be an integral part of the Iowa Department for the Blind. This is in
no way an attempt to disassociate the library from IDB. On the contrary, the
library is becoming less siloed and working more with other teams within the
department. Our college and career commons will support the work of our
vocational rehabilitation counselors, teachers, and technology specialists.
Our youth library will work closely with our education and training team to
provide more and better pre-employment transition services. These are
natural partnerships since we know that building a love of reading leads to
lifelong learning and promotes educational and career success.
Later this summer, we will be hosting three community forums in different
parts of the state to talk with folks about our name change, the new college
and career commons, the youth library, and other ideas and initiatives. We
want to have conversation, gather ideas, and share more about what we have
planned. We hope you can attend one of these events. You can also learn more
and share ideas by attending the July Director's Forum. It will be held from
5:15 to 6:15 on Monday, July 15th. The Call in number is 1-866-685-1580 and
the conference code is 5152811299. You can also attend via the Zoom app on
your computer or smart phone.  To join the Zoom Meeting go to:


Emily Wharton, MFA CPM
Director, Iowa Department for the Blind
"A proud partner in the America's Job Center Network

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