I'm nervous starting this blog, because it is only recently that I have started speaking openly about my disabilities to colleagues. After all, a professional context is hardly the place to discuss personal problems and, until recently, that's what my disabilities felt like: personal problems. One day I realized that by treating my disabilities as personal problems that can't be talked about openly, I am adding to the distress that many children, teens, and young adults as they attempt to figure out how to balance living a full life with the often difficult reality of having one or more disabilities. As a librarian, I am naturally concerned that libraries be welcoming places--and feeling welcome is not the same as knowing that, legally, one is entitled to library services. I am both reassured and pleased by the fact that most of my colleagues have not only accepted my viewpoint as valid, but have been willing to allow what I say and write to inform their own practice. What experiences have others had in talking openly about disabilities in a professional context?
The content on this website mostly comes from my perspective as a youth services librarian with disabilities. The further I travel along life's road, the more entwined these two parts of my identity become. Librarian: I have an MLS from Rutgers University and have working in public libraries for nearly 20 years. The focus on my career has always been youth services. Disabled: I've been disabled more than twice as long as I've been a librarian. My experience started at birth when I was immediately diagnosed with cleft palate. Also present was a non-verbal learning disability (NLD) for short. This was not formally diagnosed until I was 19, leading to years of frustration. My Tourette Syndrome was not present at birth, but surely started young as I don't ever remember living without it. The Tourette was also not diagnosed until adulthood, further compounding my frustration. Coincidentally, I was also diagnosed with IBD (more commonly known as Chron's\Ulcerative Colitis) at the age of 19. That was another easy diagnosis--as with cleft palate, they look and they see it.