Renee Grassi, Recognized Library Leader & Disabilities Advocate Shares How the Olmstead Plan has Made Minnesota a Model for Inclusion

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renee grassi TA forum 2019

Renee Grassi, for years has been a recognized leader in inclusive library services.  Former Illinois native and Youth Services Librarian, Renee is passionate about advocating for people of all abilities.  As a librarian in several Illinois public libraries, she has won awards for her groundbreaking work in developing more accessible libraries and disability friendly programs.

Renee, who is currently the Youth Services Manager in the Dakota County Library in Minnesota, is a great fit for the “Bread & Butter” state, where inclusion is a top priority.  In 2015, Minnesota passed the Olmstead Plan, whose mission is ensure that the states’   residents with disabilities are living, learning, working and enjoying life in the most inclusive, integrated setting.  The plan addresses employment, housing, transportation, supports and services, lifelong learning and education, healthcare and healthy living, and community engagement.

With Renee’s experience and strategic vision, the Dakota County Library was the first library in Minnesota to receive a two-year $100,000 Minnesota Department of Human Services Innovations Grant to fund events, including an American Sign Language celebration, and a series of programs for summer 2019, including musical offerings and a sensory zoo.  In addition, grants were also used for the following:

  • Accessibility kits – Tools, adapted school supplies, and small equipment to support in-library use
  • Calming spaces – room designated for those on the spectrum and/or individuals with sensory sensitivities to self-regulate; includes sensory tools for hyper- and hypo-sensitivity
  • Staff training
  • Consulting services & assessment
  • Programs and marketing

For more information, the complete set of presentation slides is available here:

renee grassi ta 2019 Targeting Autism Presentation

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