Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rerun This Fall! The Disability Community in the Library: The Class

I am so happy to announce that this Fall I will be teaching the online course, "The Disability Community in the Library" with the University of Wisconsin-Madison iSchool Continuing Education program! The course will run November 5-December 16, 2018. Register by October 22, 2018 for a 10% discount!

Unsure if this course is for you? Need some help justifying this course to your admin? Read on for more information!

A cartoon cat in a space helmet with a key, emerging from a fancy door with a galaxy pattern behind it.
(Accessibility series logo by Chris at On a Roll Designs)
(who also wrote this amazing post)
Last time I ran this class I was nervous as all get out. Mostly because I was unsure of what was going to happen. Disability advocacy has a history in abled people demanding education from disabled people to an absurd extent. It's tough because many PWD literally depend on abled people to either live or maintain their quality of life. If someone reads something I share or say, and it comes across as "too angry", there is a real possibility that they may take that anger out on other disabled people by either not helping them where they need it or worse, actively seeking to cause harm. There is a lot at stake, and I know I've already alienated abled people in our profession  who do not like to hear, or even passively engage with content that suggests, that there are ways they can improve and do better through listening to the disability community.

If you identity as an abled/nondisabled person and you're still here for these posts and/or continue to follow me on Twitter even when you feel challenged or uncomfortable, I really appreciate you. Thanks.

Last year I took 17 people through the course, and I am happy to say they all emerged as passionate advocates of the disability community, armed with actionable ways to create and maintain inclusive services, spaces, and collections. Some of the class members identified as people with disabilities, and they communicated how empowered they were to become self advocates.

This year I am opening the class up and am increasing the cap! That said, do not delay because this course could still fill up quickly.

So: who would benefit from this course?
I want to start by stating clearly what this course is not. 
It is not a course where you will learn how to run a program for people with disabilities. This course will not start and end with "how to do a sensory storytime." This course is not here to congratulate you for caring about disabled people. I am not an expert in PWD except in my own lived experience and through conversations that nondisabled people are not privy to.

What this course is:

1. Radical heartwork. IDK if that's a word, but it fits here. This course is a dive into your deeply held beliefs about people with disabilities, and a guide forward to adjust your lens.

2. A possible way forward. Once you rework your personal framing of PWD (or work on your internalized ableism if you are disabled) through exposing the abled narrative and learning the history of the ADA, you'll: get an introduction to design thinking to support all patrons including disabled patrons and workers; evaluate books for good (okay, decent and not completely harmful. We have a long way to go) representation of disability; and how to start advocating for PWD in your library, including resources to find organizations to partner with in order to create programs and services that will actually be meaningful to PWD.

3. A support network and access to a disabled perspective you may not otherwise get. Every week, you engage with the material along with your classmates, in the discussion forums. These forums are places for you to explore the material together. I will provide gentle guidance and resources to help dispel misconceptions. As long as the conversations are in good faith and do not break my course's cardinal rule ("The humanity of disabled people, and our right and desire to pursue work in and to patronize public libraries are not up for debate in this course"), they will be carefully considered and responded to with links, information, and personal anecdotes to clarify things.
Some examples of things that came up in discussion last Fall that I probably wouldn't otherwise spend time clarifying are:
-that disabled people are childlike and need to be coddled
-that PWD are lazy if they don't "overcome" their disability/anecdotes about relatives that "use their disability as an excuse"
-"I can't imagine that happening"/ "that article was obviously an extreme case"
-disability simulations
...and more!

Since I am a Youth Services Librarian in public libraries, that is the perspective through which this course is written. That said, several academic library staff and two directors took my course last year, and they all got something out of it.

Here are some unsolicited quotes from last year's participants that I received throughout the course:

"It is obvious you’ve put a lot of time, effort, and heart into developing this course. I know what I am learning will not only make me a more caring and aware librarian but a better person as well."

"Thank you for really putting yourself out there, and pushing through that fear, and as a result changing people's lives - especially those patrons or library workers who aren't even in this class, but who will feel the effects of your students' newfound knowledge, understanding, and empowerment."

"I am learning a great deal.  This course is consciousness raising."

"I've loved the course and I felt like I learned a lot and enjoyed the discussions... Thank you for creating the content and running the show."

(Wow, reading those.... I really had a great group of people for my first go-round! Thanks to everyone who took it the first time.)

Time commitment:
The course is intended for you to get what you need/want out of it. The materials are designed for a 1-3 hour time commitment, but you can engage more or less. Each week there is an introduction video, a "quick tip" video, and a short original content by me. There is also recommended and further optional links if you really want to dig in that week or already have an understanding of the content.

Each week there is also 2 discussion questions, and at the end of the course you will create something that you can use going forward (last year, people submitted powerpoints, animations, emails to staff or colleagues, and more). Don't worry, I will check up on you if I don't see you in the course for a bit, and we can work together and try our best to get you to demonstrate your understanding and engagement with the materials enough to pass (accommodations matter, folks!). You or your institution are paying for this, after all!

As always with my courses, you're welcome to download all the material to share among others in your library, so I hope you will see this as a good investment.

Ready to take the plunge and get your disability advocacy on? Register now and receive a 10% discount!

Need some more help deciding if this course is for you? Feel free to email me at brycekozla at gmail dot com and we'll talk.

No comments:

Post a Comment