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ADA Anniversary Updates

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NYPL is celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act's 20th anniversary throughout 2010. One way we are getting the word out is via the Barrier-Free Library Facebook page. If you "FB," we invite you to take a look. But, though the current movie, The Social Network, tells us that more than 500 million people are users of Facebook, we realize there are many who opt out of that particular social network. So if you are one of those who don't subscribe to "the feed"—as some affectionately call it—we present to you here some B-FL FB highlights.

LIVE from the NYPL, the top-of-the-line series of programs offered at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and sometimes at other surprising NYC venues, anticipated the anniversary by leading off with Tactile Sound: In Pursuit of Silence on April 9. George Prochnik, author of In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise, and several others spoke on the topic of silence, and some unexpected ways sound and meaning are communicated.   Among other delights, there was a sound floor upon which attendees could perch to experience the communications elephants and spiny shrimp make via vibrations. And two LIVE firsts: the evening was real-time (CART) captioned and interpreted into American Sign Language.

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and NYPL joined forced with the Center for Hearing and Communication to spread the word about hearing loss at five branch libraries that month. Amy Boyle spoke about "The Three Steps to Healthy Hearing" at the Bronx Library Center, St. Agnes Library, St. George Library Center, Riverdale Library, and Battery Park City Library. The Battery Park City program featured screenings from the CHC's mobile van which was parked outside. 

On June 5, the Disabled in Action Singers paid tribute to the ADA and persons with varying abilities with a rousing concert, of the sort they have been giving for over 30 years. It happened at the Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library.

Celebratory events and informational presentations reached a crescendo in July, the actual anniversary month, with a full day of activities at the Schwarzman Building on Wednesday, July 7 and a bevy of topnotch speakers from around the city and the country at Mid-Manhattan Library the following three Wednesdays. Matthew Sapolin, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Persons with Disabilities, kicked off ADA Day on 7/7, though his beautiful service dog nearly stole the show. Commissioner Sapolin gave us an overview of the NYC laws covering people with disabilities—which in some ways are even stronger than the ADA. He conveyed a sense of history, touching upon major inroads of the past 20 years and reminding us of the challenges we have yet to meet.

A cavalcade of speakers and performers took the stage in various combinations for the rest of the day: Ruth O'Brien; Stephen Kuusisto; Achim Nowak; Leonard Kriegel; Gary Mex Glazner; Heidi Latsky; Lawrence Carter-Long; Jeffrey Freeze; and Roger Ross Williams. Watch the videos!

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