By: Andrea Mantakounis
The Wyoming Branch of Kent District Library will host a tour of international leaders to discover how the library offers an inclusive environment and accessible spaces for disabled community members.
The group of eight visitors represent disability rights organizations in seven countries: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. They will tour KDL’s Wyoming Branch on Monday, April 11 from 1-3 p.m. The visit is part of an international professional development project that stems from a partnership between Colleagues International (CI) – a non-profit organization based in Kalamazoo, Michigan – and the U.S. Department of State.
In 2015, Kent District Library was awarded the Community Champions Award by Disability Advocates of Kent County for assessing all 18 KDL branches and the service center headquarters for accessibility. Kent District Library operates the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for residents in Kent, Ionia, and Montcalm Counties
“We are so humbled to see this recognition for our accomplishments in serving the disabled community. We have learned so much from our partners at Disability Advocates of Kent County and their assistance has helped us become the best library we can be for all members of our community,” says Lance Werner, KDL’s Executive Director.
The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the project:
· Examine federal, state, and local laws and programs intended to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
· Explore government and private sector funding of services and programs for persons with disabilities;
· Discuss how various organizations, associations, and NGOs influence policy and raise awareness of disability issues through advocacy, media and grassroots organizing; and
· Provide professional networking opportunities that facilitate long‑term dialogue among the visitors and their American counterparts.
The Department of State specifically requested these guests have a tour and meeting with Kent District Library. This event will include KDL staff and community members, including those with disabilities, highlighting how the library has created an inclusive environment and accessible spaces for the community.