Inclusive Communication Essex (ICE) part of Essex County Council Libraries

The ICE Resource Service specialises in helping to improve communication for people with learning disabilities. They support those who cannot rely solely on speech to understand, and be understood.  One way they do this is through a Communication equipment (AAC) loan service. Only 5 -10% of people with learning disabilities have recognised literacy skills and most are not be able to access standard written information. The service, the first, and only of its kind in a UK library, is developing sensory stories within Essex Libraries to ensure non-readers, emerging readers, and those with low levels of literacy can be actively involved in stories which encourage and develop communication and literacy skills. . These stories can be loaned to families, childminders, preschools and nurseries and parent support groups through Essex Libraries free of charge.

We would use the grant to produce 4 new sensory story packs which can be used by families taking part in the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge 2018 in Essex Libraries. Sensory Stories can be of particular benefit to children with special educational needs as they can interact with the story on a multi-sensory level even if they do not communicate using conventional language. Stories are brought to life through a combination of text and sensory stimuli; touch, sound, smell, taste, and are a lot of fun too. Sensory Stories can benefit everyone; they can help encourage reluctant readers and stimulate a child’s imagination, as well as opening up the world of literature to children who otherwise would be excluded.

Essex Libraries are part of the national Autism Friendly Libraries programme. They are looking at a number of activities to support children, young people and adults with autism to feel comfortable in libraries including staff awareness training.

They are committed to making the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge inclusive to all children.