Introducing My Visit to Toronto Public Library: A Social Story for Everyone

March 22, 2022 | Melanie L.

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What does accessibility mean to you?

Often that word reminds us of ramps, automatic doors and modified washrooms.

These are important, but accessibility goes far beyond physical spaces. For us, it also includes our collections, services, programs and digital platforms.

Children with all kinds of disabilities visit our branches every day. We want to be welcoming for all. To help serve this diverse group, we are launching My Visit to the Toronto Public Library: A Social Story for Everyone.

What is a social story?

Social stories are simple picture books about an activity. Their goal is to help prepare children for a new experience or situation. They were first developed by Carol Gray, a former teacher and consultant who supports people with autism. Her publication, The New Social Story Book, is available at the library.

What is the social story about?

Our social story is about a visit to the library. It takes readers through things a person might do during a visit. This includes choosing books, using a computer, accessing the washroom and more.

It contains a glossary at the end to explain library terms the reader might not be familiar with.

Who is the social story for?

People of any age or ability can use our social story.

Having said that, we wrote it with children with disabilities in mind. While we were planning this project, we spoke to children with disabilities and children who are Deaf, their families, and some agencies that support them. We asked what they thought would be helpful in a social story, and we used their input when writing it.

Child's drawing of a robot with a head and body standing next to a computer and a pile of books. The top of the page says "My Library." Over the robot it says "Baby robot books (readaloud)" and there is a speech bubble coming from its mouth that is saying the alphabet. Over the computer it says "Video game books" and under the books it says "Normal books all ages and languages."
Drawing by Vyan, age 7.

When you read through the social story, you will notice images of children of various ages and abilities. These are some of the children we spoke with in our consultations. Some have visible, physical disabilities while others have invisible disabilities. Some are D/deaf. Some are siblings of children with disabilities and do not have any disabilities that we know of.

Just like them, the people who use the story will be diverse. They could be kids who are neurodiverse or teens with developmental disabilities. Some may have anxiety about visiting new places or meeting new people. Teachers might use the social story with their classes before bringing them to the library. Children who are new to Canada may also find it useful.

How did we write the social story?

Writing a social story is a big job. The idea came from two of our children’s librarians and grew from there. First, we spoke with children, families and agencies to decide what to include. After we wrote it, we took the photos. Then we had it translated into Braille and American Sign Language. Many people and organizations helped us write this book, and we are thankful for their support.

How do you use a social story?

Read the social story one or more times before your visit to the library. Encourage your child or student to ask questions, and answer the best you can. If you’re unsure about something, feel free to call the branch you’ll be visiting and ask.

Where can I find the social story?

You can find the social story on our website, tpl.ca/socialstory. It is available in the following formats:

  • PDF eBook
  • Audio, with or without audio description (AD)
  • Video, with or without audio description (AD)
  • Video with American Sign Language (ASL) translation
  • Braille (eBraille)

We're working on a print and ePUB version of the story. Stay tuned!

Other recommended reading

We encourage parents and children of all abilities to check out our booklist, Disability–Read Up on It! These books all contain positive portrayals of people who have disabilities or are D/deaf.

Here are some other books in the collection that support learning social and emotional skills.

Listen and Learn

Listen and Learn by Cheri J. Meiners

Look for other books in this series, including Join in and Play.

Time to Make Friends

Time to Make Friends by Penny Tassoni; illustrated by Mel Four

Other useful books in this eBook series include Time to Care, Time to go to Nursery and Time to go to Bed.

How to Be a Friend

How to be a Friend by Laurie Krasny Brown; illustrated by Marc Brown

How to Apologize

How to Apologize by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka


Get Unstuck from Disappointment
Get Unstuck from Disappointment by Gill Hasson; illustrated by Sarah Jennings

Also look for Step Back from Frustration, by the same author.

 


Are there any other books that have helped your child? Please let us know in the comments!

Accessibility at Toronto Public Library

Toronto Public Library strives to make our spaces, services, and collections welcoming and accessible for everyone. In early 2022, we released our Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. You can learn more about it and other accessibility initiatives on our website at tpl.ca/accessibility.

Do you have any feedback about how we can make the library more accessible? If so, please contact us at accessibleservices@tpl.ca or (416) 393-7099.

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