Girls Like Us: Great for Group Discussions and Teen Book Clubs!

Gail Giles's new teen novel, Girls Like Us, weaves the heart-wrenching tales of two young women thrown together by what at first seems like bad luck. Quincy and Biddy were in the special education program together in high school, and they were anything but friends. Biddy had a reputation with the boys and Quincy was well-known for her mean streak. When they learned they'd be living together cooperatively, they thought life couldn't get any worse.

Told from the alternating perspective of each woman, "Girls Like Us" slowly reveals abusive childhoods and cruel experiences that have shaped who they are today. Everywhere they go they carry the insults slung at them like parasites, the words so deeply ingrained that they are accepted as truth. Although much of the intertwined tale of Biddy and Quincy is an unflinching look at human cruelty, the heart-warming moments of gradual friendship make this novel worth the emotional toll. It both empowers readers and inspires reflection on memory, change, hope, friendship, and family.

Gail Giles has written several books for teens, including What Happened to Cass McBride? and Playing in Traffic. "Girls Like Us" appeared on the longlist for the 2014 National Book Award in Young People's Literature, and was inspired by several previous students in Giles' 20 years of teaching special education classes.

Vision Loss Online Support

The Summer 2014 newsletter, Dots and Decibels, from the Perkins Library and the Worcester Talking Book Library features someone with a very special mission. Hannah Fairbairn has “walked the walk” of vision loss and personal recovery, and now wants to share some of the ways she manages her daily life through her new website and weekly blog. In addition to her own experiences, Hannah has worked at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts for many years. She writes, “wherever you are in your journey with vision loss, you’ll find something here to make you more confident, more like your old self…or perhaps more active and productive than you were before.” Hannah’s blog can be found via her website VisionLossAndPersonalRecovery.com.

Child in a Strange Country: Exhibit and Events


The traveling exhibit from the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, "Child in a Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" officially opens this Friday, May 2, with a reception featuring library director Josie Parker, Museum Director Micheal A. Hudson, harpist Deborah Gabrion, and refreshments.

But the exhibit is already assembled enough (in the Downtown Library's lobby and 3rd floor) to see it will be fun and informative featuring a big globe with raised features, selections of writing such as Valentin Hauy’s tactile book and Louis Braille’s dot code, and insights, events, and photographs from Helen's life.

The title of the exhibit comes from Anne Sullivan's report about Helen in which she said, “For the first two years of her intellectual life she was like a child in a strange country,” and noted that no learning was possible until she could overcome the communication barrier posed by blindness and deafness. With that in mind, “Child in a Strange Country” explores four primary subjects: Reading, Science, Math, and Geography. Using Helen Keller’s educational journey as a lens, the exhibit uses tactile reproductions and authentic artifacts to uncover the roots of modern education for children with vision loss. The exhibit is designed to be fully accessible and interactive. You can touch and explore that big globe as much as you want.

If the exhibit whets your appetite, come see Child in a Strange Country or Why is Helen Keller at the Water Pump the Only Person Who Was Blind that Most Americans Know?, on Sunday, May 4 from 2 - 3:30 PM, a talk by Museum Director Micheal A. Hudson in which he explores major advances in learning and literacy since 1784 for people who are blind or visually impaired, introducing characters that most people do not know. Also join us on Wednesday, May 7 from 7 - 8:30 PM for Sensory Communication: Relaying and Receiving Information Through Touch, in which UM Performing Arts Technology Professor Sile O'Modhrain discusses touch, communication, and Helen Keller.

You may also be interested in Visions 2014 in the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College on Wednesday, May 14 from 10 AM - 3 PM, where a variety of exhibitors demonstrate the latest products and services for people with vision loss. The fair also features presentations by guest speakers from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Disabled, UM Kellogg Eye Center, WLBPD @ AADL, and the AT Guys.

Survey for Parents on their Educational Perspectives

The Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University invites you to participate in a study to evaluate the services and to understand the educational experiences of blind and/or visually impaired youth in grades K through 12. Your feedback will improve policies and practices that prepare teachers in the future. Participation in this study allows us to gain a much richer and robust understanding of factors that impact service options and academic performance of blind and/or visually impaired youth.
For a parent or guardian to participate in this study, your child must meet the following criteria.
• Be between the ages of 5-22 and be enrolled in a school in the United States in grades K through 12
• Visual impairment must be listed as his or her primary diagnosed disability on his or her Individualized Education Plan (IEP);
• English is his or her primary spoken language;
Participation in this study is voluntary and you may quit the survey at any time. We appreciate your participation in this research.

Bust Buddies Michigan Friendship Walk

Best Buddies is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan are working together in order to meet this goal by partnering to put on a one mile friendship awareness walk on Saturday, April 5, 12-3 pm at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. Visit Best Buddies Michigan to register and support this effort.

Belief, Hope and Generosity in the Workplace: Hiring Individuals in Recovery

Wednesday October 1, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event will be recorded

Ari Weinzweig believes that a key aspect of managing ourselves is acknowledging the power of belief - and how much, whether we realize it or not, our beliefs impact our lives and our futures.

In this talk, the CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman's Community of Businesses will take a look at how our beliefs play out in our day to day workplace experiences and how we and our workplaces are impacted by our beliefs. Ari will discuss how our beliefs about ourselves, organization, coworkers, and our boss, affect the work that we do. And also how, wittingly or unwittingly, we go to great lengths to reinforce our beliefs.

Weinzweig has been distilling the lessons learned from that journey into a series of what will eventually be 6 books. The third, and most recent of the Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading series, "A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Managing Ourselves," turns inwards and examines the impact that our selves have on our businesses.

This event includes a book signing and books will be for sale.

This lecture is in partnership with U-M Council for Disability Concerns 2014 Investing in Ability Week theme Addiction as Disability. This event was originally scheduled for the Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room and has been relocated to the 4th floor of the Downtown Library.

Assistive Technology at AADL

Adults and children with visual or cognitive disabilities can have easy access to information and entertainment through several types of Assistive Technology at Ann Arbor District Library.

From hand-held magnifiers, to text-to-speech software, to Braille printing, AADL has an assortment of accessible technology available during all regular library hours. Not sure how to use this type of technology? Also available, is walk-in training with an experienced instructor! Walk-in assistive technology training is available, at no charge, Tuesdays, 1-6 pm and Wednesdays, 9:30am-2:30pm, in the Assistive Technology Lab on the 2nd floor of the Downtown Library. Call 734-327-4224 for more information, or email wlbpd@aadl.org.

Interested in new technology? Mark your calendars for: "VISIONS 2014: What’s New in Technology for the Blind & Visually Impaired.” VISIONS will take place on Wednesday, May 14, at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building.

WLBPD Holiday Books

Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled patrons can browse the Michigan Braille & Talking Book Library (BTBL) or National Library Service online catalogs to find a good selection of Christmas mysteries, romances, cookbooks, or holiday stories for young people. Titles like "The Cat Who Came for Christmas" (DB26048/BR7225) or "It's Kwanzaa Time!" (DB42923) are available, as well as books about Hanukkah.

You can do a Word in Title search for a holiday using the online catalogs or call 734-327-4224, and a reader adviser will be happy to order them for you.

Focus Groups for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

The Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy and the statewide Partners Against Violence and Injustice in Michigan are gathering information to improve services for adults with development disabilities in Washtenaw County and across Michigan. The team is seeking individuals with developmental disabilities to participate in a 90 minute focus group by sharing ideas and providing examples of what has worked well and what hasn’t during programs or while receiving services. Focus groups will be held on July 16th and 17th at the Ann Arbor Center For Independent Living at 11 am and 2 pm each day. Transportation and other assistance is available, and participants will receive a $25 Meijer gift card for their time. Light refreshments will also be available. To register for one of the discussions, please contact Beth at 734-662-1256 or bgarlock@washtenawaca.org.

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