Monday, April 6, 2020

Accessible Virtual Programming: Close-up on DIY Captioning Editors

As I write this post at the start of our fourth week in a stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have become even more aware of the inequity of online content. For this particular post, I am focusing on the need for more captioned video content. Please take a moment to go to the the accessibility settings on your device and enable the Closed Captioning option, when available. On an iPhone, select Accessibility from the main Settings menu, choose Subtitles & Captioning, and select Closed Captions + SDH (when available). 

screenshot of iPhone settings and Accessibility setting option
screenshot of iPhone accessibility options in settings with circle around Subtitles and Captioning
screenshot of iPhone Subtitles and Captioning option in settings

Now try going to social media. We'll use Facebook, as that is one of the most popular social media platforms for engagement with patrons. Go to the the video watchlist area or search your favorite organization and look at some of the videos. Before being in isolation, I admit to mostly just occasionally skimming through these videos without the sound. Unless the video had captioning, which would then pique my interest enough to stop and read... and maybe even choose to activate the sound to engage more, I kept skimming by. Upon doing a little research, it turns out I am not alone. According to research, 85 percent of Facebook video is viewed without sound. 

Now imagine what happens when we are also eliminating a portion of our community who are unable to select the option of turning up the sound on a video to engage with it. If over 5% of the world's population, or roughly 466 million people, have disabling hearing loss (World Heath Organization), we are excluding many members of our community. Additionally, we also know that captioning and subtitles can also benefit people who have cognitive disabilities and have difficulties with speech comprehension. People with sensory processing difficulties may also have difficulty with background noise or sounds, necessitating viewing without sound, in addition to better engagement with non-native speakers who may need the additional language support on the screen. 

As with other libraries during this time, our library also recognizes the need to create virtual programming such as story times, book discussions, and/or simple virtual connection activities to engage our families at home now and possibly into the coming months of uncertainty that covers Summer Reading and later fall programming. While we are looking to avoid public sharing sites that offer Closed Captioning support, such as YouTube, to honor the fair use guidelines by many publishers, we also want to ensure accuracy, therefore avoiding the use of Facebook automatic captioning that can certainly be amusing at best (  

I began my trial of caption/subtitle editors to add captioning to our virtual programming videos to ensure we are being inclusive of all abilities at a time when our disability community members are feeling even more isolated. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but a good start. This blog post takes a more comprehensive look at options to consider:

In an effort to connect with our weekly story time kiddos who are missing their time with their beloved librarians each week during this time, I asked our weekly story time staff members (if they were feeling up to it) to send me a quick video of a "hello" or a fun "singalong" to add captioning to and share with viewers on our social media and website for families not on social media. 

Video captioning resources:

  • Free version
  • Can use the auto-generate captions feature or add captions/subtitles manually
  • Easy-to-use editor allows you to edit each segment

Cons of free version:
  • Videos edited using free version go on Kapwing's public share space
  • Workspace projects are deleted after 7 days
  • Published videos can only be up to 10 minutes long

Kapwing Pro is $20/month
    image of youth librarian, Ms. Nicole with a colorful scarf on and colorful painting in the background
  • allows stored content
  • private assets option
  • priority support
  • faster processing time
  • Publish videos up to 40 minutes long
I used Kapwing to edit Ms. Nicole's sing-along video:


  • 1st video upload is free
  • Very accurate auto-generated captions
  • Can also edit caption style (font, colors) and caption position
  • Optional headline addition
  • Supports several languages for speech-text transcription
  • Does not require .SRT file
  • Easy-to-use editor allows editing of each segment
  • Only allows 1 free upload and then you have to subscribe (

I used Zubtitle to edit Ms. Andy's video message:
close up image of youth librarian, Ms. Andy smiling for the camera

Unfortunately, I did not try Amara, as videos have to be uploaded to a URL (Vimeo, YouTube, WebM, etc.) and it did not offer an auto-generated feature.

Of the three, I really liked Zubtitle the best for its versatility, ease of use, and options.

I am also going to try out Clips, an IOS video app that can take video and generate automated captions, which can be edited after, for an upcoming brief virtual adaptive story time. Coming soon!

Some other options and additional tips to consider:

Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself and to your fellow staff during this time. Things to remember: 
  • Not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera. 
  • Staff might not have the resources needed at home to do a virtual program or have to focus on taking care of young children at home, making work from home very difficult.
  • Some prefer busy work to work through the stress and anxiety of this time, and others are having a great deal of difficulty trying to focus on just the daily tasks right now. Both are okay.
  • It's okay to just keep it simple for now: sing-alongs, recommendations, a simple craft activity demo, or a hello message to connect is a great start.
Wishing wellness and safety to all of you!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Adaptive Literacy Resources Online

girl with excited expression holding hands up over line of books with words "Never Stop Learning" on the spines

Looking for adaptive literacy resources online for youth with disabilities and their families to engage with while at home during this time of quarantine? Families might not be able to attend an adaptive story time at the library right now, but here are some adaptive story time supplements in the meantime.

Multicultural children's hands reaching up to open book with the words Children's Stories in ASL above book

American Society for Deaf Children's directory of Children's Stories in ASL is a very comprehensive list, organized by grade and also title.

logo for Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre with lowercase dhcc letters that have circle outlines inside each letter

Check out this ongoing compilation of ASL stories, eBooks, and other ASL educational resources for #OperationASLStorytime from the Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre.

Logo for DPAN.TV with capital D above a single line

DPAN.TV: The Sign Language Channel is offering Kids Stories in ASL!

logo images of bee, cat, and AASD under words Center for Accessible Technology in Sign

The Center for Accessible Technology in Sign (CATS), a joint project between the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf and the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a video library of songs, rhymes, reference sources, poetry, stories and more in American Sign Language.

image of a worm with glasses on top of a book with words Tar Heel Reader in text box above

The Tar Heel Reader is a fantastic source for adapted books online. These speech enabled, simple-to-read stories are accessible on multiple interfaces and the site is available in 9 languages.

OverDrive logo with large O in blue squareBook jacket cover for Ruby's Sleepover with two girls in tent holding a flashlight under the nighttime sky
Check to see if your library's OverDrive collection has any of the new ASL Signed Stories on eVideo, in addition to titles on eAudio for youth who are blind or have low vision.

Scholastic logo with open book image

Scholastic is currently offering free Learn at Home literacy through Book Flix and their Watch & Learn Library. Books have read-along audio (with slower audio option) and story video with read along caption option.

National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled NLS logo

If your child is eligible, check out the many downloadable books in braille and audio from BARD. Be  sure to also check with your local/state Braille and Talking Book Library.

logo image of black and white maze next to words Paths to Literacy

Check out some recent posts about virtual services and multisensory literacy activities for youth with multiple disabilities on the Paths to Literacy blog.

While this is a good start, it is by no means a complete list. Let me know if you have any free adaptive literacy resources online to add to the list.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Book 'N Play: "In My Heart"

Cover of book In My Heart by Jo Witek with little girl jumping over colorful heart shape dicuts in the center going from large to small

This month's Book 'N Play explored the many feelings we feel inside our heart. Here's the plan:

Visual schedule with images for each story time activity

1. Hello!

2. Welcome Song (“The Story Time Ball”)
tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)

3. Yoga poses: "The gifts of love"
We did a combination of 3 different poses here. 
1. "Gift" (child's pose)
2. "Heart" (butterfly pose)
3. "Flowers" (flower pose)

4. Sensory tool rhyme: "I Look in the Mirror"
I loved using our adorable story time set of mirrors for the first time so we could practice facial expressions and identifying those expressions.

plastic bin full of handheld colorful mirrors
I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a happy face smiling at me.
I look in the mirror and what do I see?
I see a surprised face looking at me.

Other faces: sad, mad, scared, silly

5. Multisensory experience story: In My Heart by Jo Witek

large 2-tiered cart with flashlight, bowls of batting, green balloons, flannel hearts, bandages, and stuffed elephant on top tier. 2 weighted lap pads on 2nd tier.
 flannel board with flannel pieces in the shapes of a large house, star, burst, heart, earth, elephant, small beast, plant, balloon, small tree, bandage, and magic hat

Our wonderful Clerical Assistant, Amy, made these flannel pieces for each child to add to the board as we read the story.

Place pink house on the board.
Hold out arms for big feelings and close arms on small feelings, LOUD feelings and quiet feelings.

Place big yellow star on board.
Hold up shining flashlight and smile wide while twirling around in place (or twirling arms if seated).

Place planet earth with clouds on board.
Reach up and stretch to the clouds (touching bowls with white cotton batting).

Place orange burst on board.
Make "Boom!" sound by clapping hands together.

Place green balloon on board.
Hold green balloons up and watch them gently fall "as quiet as snowfall."

Place bandage on board.
Each child is given a band-aid to help heal our stuffed friend's broken heart. Babar was feeling much better after!

Babar the elephant stuffed toy with bandages

Place elephant on board.
Place small weighted lap pad in the lap of each child so they can feel a "heavy heart."

Place plant on the board.
Reach toward the sky with our arms out like stems and branches.

Place scary beast on board.
Turn on small fan and face toward everyone so they can feel that scared feeling like a "chilly breeze has crawled up my neck."

Place magic hat on board.
Hop in place like a bouncy bunny.

Place small tree on board.
Give each child and caregiver a heart and ask them to tell us how their heart is feeling today as they place it on the board. This was so much fun! Many kids said their hearts were happy and a few mentioned hungry hearts and hearts that were feeling all of the feelings today!

6: Sensory play stations:

Discovery bin: "Rainbow of Feelings" bin filled with rainbow colored rice and plastic eggs with feelings visuals inside. (source:

bin of rainbow colored rice and plastic eggs filled with emotion visual cutouts

Light table play: colorful stackable shapes to build your "house of feelings"

hand reaching over light panel with colorful pyramid shapes

colorful square shapes on top of light panels

Toy play: making heart shapes with cookie cutters and gluten-free play dough

child playing with play dough, making heart shapes

Craft: make squishy hearts with ziplock bags (with a heart outline drawn in black sharpie), finger-paints, and duct tape to seal

child's hands pressing on paint filled ziplock bag with heart shape     child's hands pressing on paint inside heart drawn on ziploc bag

table with finger paints and hands sealing ziplock bags filled with paint

ziplock bag with heart shape filled with red and blue paint on table with popsicle sticks and duct tape

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Book 'N Play

Book 'N Play flyer with Book 'N Play in large green box and covers of three books: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, LMNO Peas, and In My Heart

We are trying something new! Attendance for our monthly sensory story times exclusively targeted to children with developmental disabilities was consistently low this past fall. Many factors are involved, including a wonderful abundance of new adaptive therapies and recreational opportunities in our community on Saturdays. I am truly so very excited to see all of these new opportunities available to children with disabilities and their families. Yeah! With these new opportunities in the community, though, comes the time for us to once again reevaluate our community's needs and how we can continue to meet and enrich those needs with our programming. Even though we might not be able to offer exclusive adaptive programs, all library events and programs can be made inclusive with adaptive tools (e.g. visuals, availability of sound cancelling headphones, inexpensive sunglasses to filter bright florescent lighting, alternative handouts in large font). Libraries can also have these accessibility services listed on their website to welcome people before their visit.

So what did we decide, you ask? We have moved the original adaptive Saturday morning story time (SENSEational Story Time) to Thursday afternoons after surveying some of our local special education directors to determine the best time (12:30 pm) and are opening this up to visiting school groups. Stay tuned for an update! These will be very similar to our multisensory outreach story times for the Wing Lake Developmental Center. We are also offering an adaptive and inclusive multisensory story exploration for children of all abilities, ages 3 - 7, once a month on a Saturday morning at 11 am. A much larger scale version of this program was welcomed by many of our young story explorers this past summer at our Book & Play: How to Catch a Star program.

Our first monthly Book 'N Play was held last month. Families explored the story We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. Here's a peek at some of the fun:

We're Going on a Bear Hunt visuals on board: long wavy grass, deep cold river, thick oozy mud, a big dark forest, a swirling whirling snowstorm, and a narrow gloomy cave

view from behind of child touching bags with blue water, mud, and sticks in bags on light panels

kids coloring and adding sensory paint and cotton balls to We're Going on a Bear Hunt sensory map outline

This month's story was LMNO Peas by Keith Baker.

Book cover for LMNO Peas by Keith Baker with large letters LMNO and word peas with tiny "pea persons" surrounding letters

Here's the plan:

visual schedule board with activity visuals

1. Hello (Welcome families and talk about what Book 'N Play is)

2. Welcome Song (“The Story Time Ball”)
tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)

3. Yoga pose: Alphabet letter poses (A, B, C) I really like this set ABC Yoga Cards for Kids by Christine Ristuccia, which is also in our Alphabet Discovery Skills Kit.

ABC yoga card set

4. Action Rhyme:  “Alphabet Beat”
First clap your hands.
Then stomp your feet.
Everybody do the alphabet beat!

Apple, Apple, Apple - a- a- a.
Apple, Apple, Apple - a- a- a.
Wave your arms high.
Swing your arms low.
The alphabet beat is the way to go.

Blue, Blue, Blue - b- b- b.
Blue, Blue, Blue - b- b- b.
Move to the left.
Move to the right.
The alphabet beat is way out of sight.

Car, Car, Car - c- c- c.
Car, Car, Car - c- c- c.
Shout it out loud.
Whisper down low.
Now give a high five to a nearby friend.
This alphabet beat has come to an end.

5. Multisensory experience story: LMNO Peas

large plastic bin with large cardboard blocks, circular bean bags, large bag of star finger puppets, and bag of wrist ribbon flags

actions / sensory experiences

A: Astronauts – make arms in A-shape and “blast off”

B: Builders – each child add a block to the “building” (use large blocks)

C: Climbers – pretend to climb

D: Drivers – “drive" with circle bean bag steering wheels

E: Eaters – “pretend to chew”

F: Flaggers – wave ribbon “flags”

hand holding up colorful wrist ribbon flag

G: Gigglers – giggle and laugh

H: Hikers – walk or wheel around the room 

I: Investigators – look around holding up hand "binoculars"

J: Jugglers – "juggle" imaginary balls

K: Kickers – kick feet in place

L: Listeners – listen with hand over ear

M: Miners – “dig” with hands

N: Neighbors – wave to “neighbor” next to us

O: Officers – hold up star badge (star finger puppets)

P: Peas – touch dried peas in bowl

Q: Quilters – touch quilt square

R: Readers – Read the letter “R”

S: Swimmers – make swimming motions

T: Truckers – honk “horn”

U: Underwater Divers – hand "goggles"

V: Voters – board with yes box or no box – kids can place a check on the yes or no

W: Weavers – weave yarn or string through loop

X: X-ray Doctors – look at x-ray overlays on light table (I finally got to use our cool "X-ray" overlays from Lakeshore Learning on the light table, and the kids loved these!)

chest x-ray on light panel

Y: Yogis (do “Y” pose)

Z: Zoologists - brush wild animal puppet

soft lion puppet sitting on floor

6. Sensory play stations: 

Discovery bin: find the foam letters in the dried peas (using strainers, large tweezers, and scoopers)

large sensory bin filled with dried peas and foam letters with tray of tweezers and strainers

Light table play: colorful acrylic letters on light panels

light panel with colorful acrylic letters spelling SUNDAY

Toy play: gluten-free playdough with letter stamps

child sitting at table pressing letter stampers into play dough

tubs of play dough and letter stampers on top of table

Craft: make a tactile letter (first letter of name) – with large letter outline, foam shapes, pompoms, and googly eyes

letter c outline with googly eyes and foam triangle shapes for spikes and teeth
(letter outline source: The Measured Mom)

And of course we had some of our alphabet puzzles, tactile braille letters, alphabet discovery skills kit, and toys from our Accessibility Support Collection available in the room to check out and continue the multisensory fun at home.

LMNO Peas book, Alphabet Discovery Skills Kit backpack, Braille tactile letter pieces, multi sensory alphabet card set on table display