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How GEPL Serves Kids of All Abilities

Category: GEPL News
Posted: February 12, 2018

By: Katy Almendinger, Early Literacy Librarian

Picture of GEPL Youth Department from Youth Entrance.Libraries are more accessible than ever before. The Glen Ellyn Public Library offers innovative programs, services, and materials to make the library a friendly place for individuals of all abilities. Adaptable resources are beneficial to the entire community because they ensure that everyone can utilize the same spaces and services equally, regardless of physical, intellectual, or sensory disability. Our inclusive programs can also be a valuable opportunity to teach young people how to accept, understand, and value human differences.

Adapted Books

Adapted books from Leap Into Literacy have several features to make books more accessible. Pages are laminated not only for durability, but also for easy cleaning. Picture communication is color coded and added at the bottom of each page to help children identify the language used. With sturdy binding, books can be propped open or placed on a pedestal, which can assist those with gross motor disabilities.

Braille Books

The Youth Department houses a small collection of mainstream picture books, board books, and early readers in Braille. Many of these books are also bound in a way that makes them extra sturdy.


We provide audiobooks in CD, Playaway, and downloadable formats. Audiobooks can be especially accessible for individuals who have learning disabilities or visual impairments. Listening to the text can help reinforce comprehension and word recognition, improve pronunciation, and the rate at which children can read a text.

Picture of the library's collection of picture books.Categorized Picture Books

Have you ever wished that the transportation picture books were shelved together? Our picture books are now organized by category. This allows children to practice free choice and independence. Additionally, many popular characters and series are shelved together for ease of access.


You can now checkout toys to take home, just like a book! Our toys were carefully curated to offer sensory play experiences that build early literacy, developmental skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and social skills. With targeted themes like Getting Dressed, which can facilitate an opportunity for children to practice fastening zippers and buttons, these kits can provide unique learning experiences at home.

Open-Ended Play

Experimenting with different senses through play can be a valuable learning experience. Our Play Space features a light table, LEGO® tables, a doll house, puzzles, and opportunities for dramatic play. These open-ended play experiences are adaptable for all ages and abilities.

Prepare for a Visit with Social Stories

Social Stories are popular learning tools in special education classrooms. We created our own Social Story to help familiarize the community with our library spaces and services. You can download a PDF of our Social Story  to use at home prior to your visit, or one is available for in-house use at the Youth Information Desk. Our Meet the Staff page can also help children prepare for their library visit.

Sensory Saturdays

Children who receive therapy and their friends and family are invited to attend Sensory Saturday. Each Sensory Saturday features adapted books, sensory play, and STEAM activities for children from birth to five years old. This small group, self-paced program is designed to be accessible for all children, regardless of ability.

Picture of the Youth Information Desk.Universal Design

Our recently remodeled Youth Department space was built using universal design. Our iPad kiosk catalogs are wheel-chair friendly, and the devices offer text-magnifying features. The Youth Information Desk is now at an accessible height, with computer monitors that turn to share information more easily.

We also offer flexible seating and active seating options throughout the department, including The Middle. Our Study Room, available for students in grade 8 and under, can even be utilized as a quiet space.

Do you have a great idea about a new accessible service or program? Or do you have feedback or a question about an existing service? Contact Early Literacy Librarian Katy Almendinger at or 630-790-6739.

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