Miami-Dade Public Library System recognized as Autism Friendly Partner by University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
Partnership is part of a Countywide Autism and Neurodiverse Inclusion Program
The Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) is proud to have been designated an Autism Friendly Partner by the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD). The partnership was formalized during a ceremony at the Pinecrest Branch Library on Monday, August 23 and is part of a Countywide Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Neurodiverse Inclusion Program in collaboration with UM-NSU CARD. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel Regalado, who sponsored the resolution for the County to enter into an agreement with UM-NSU CARD to develop the program, participated in the ceremony along with Library Director Ray Baker and UM-NSU CARD Executive Director Dr. Michael Alessandri.
“Making Miami-Dade a more equitable, inclusive place where all residents and families feel welcome is a key priority for my administration," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. "Our public libraries have always been a place of inclusion and I’m proud that they are at the forefront of implementing this important Countywide effort to continue expanding and enhancing our programming and services for people of all abilities."
“The goal of this Countywide Autism Spectrum Disorder and Neurodiverse Inclusion Program is to build a more welcoming community for people of all abilities,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Raquel Regalado. “UM-NSU CARD is a great partner to help develop the program and I’m very happy that Miami-Dade Public Libraries is the first County department to be designated an Autism Friendly Partner.”
The program includes opportunities for training for County staff, the development of autism-friendly spaces, the expansion of age-specific programming for individuals with ASD and the development of social narratives for County spaces, including libraries, parks and transit.
To date, nearly all MDPLS employees have completed ASD and Strategies for Inclusivity training provided by UM-NSU CARD and more trainings for neurodiverse storytelling and programming are being offered. MDPLS has also created custom social narratives for each of its 49 branches with input from UM-NSU CARD. The narratives help individuals with ASD and neurodiverse persons better understand what to expect when visiting a library and can be downloaded from the branch pages on the Library’s website at www.mdpls.org/branch-a-z. MDPLS is also working in collaboration with UM-NSU CARD on expanding its sensory-friendly program offerings to include more autism friendly experiences and neurodiverse programs and continuing to develop autism and sensory-friendly spaces in its libraries.
“I am so appreciative of the work and dedication of our Miami-Dade Public Library employees in this achievement that will make a difference in the lives of neurodiverse individuals and those with autism spectrum disorder,” said Library Director Ray Baker. “We’re honored to have been designated an Autism Friendly Partner and look forward to our continued collaboration with UM-NSU CARD.”
“Our mission is to optimize the potential of people living with autism and related disabilities and we are eager to help create places and spaces in our community where our clients and families feel a true sense of belonging,” said UM-NSU CARD Executive Director Dr. Michael Alessandri. “The Miami-Dade Public Library System is a wonderful example of an organization that is providing a welcoming, compassionate and inclusive environment for individuals with ASD and related disabilities. We’re proud to call them our partner.”
Editor’s Note: High resolution photos available upon request.
About the Miami-Dade Public Library System
The mission of the Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) is to provide extraordinary services, spaces and experiences that promote literacy and learning, personal growth and limitless opportunities. MDPLS is recognized as an Autism Friendly Partner by the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. MDPLS has been honored with an Urban Libraries Council 2020 Innovation Award as Top Innovator in the Civic and Community Engagement category and awarded 59 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards over the past five years. MDPLS has also received the Florida Library Association (FLA) Award for Exemplary Instructional Programs or Services for its Climate of Art Program in 2021 and Homework Help and Tutoring Program in 2020, FLA Library Innovation Award for its Technobus in 2019 and the FLA Award for Excellence in Marketing and Public Relations in 2018. Learn more at www.mdpls.org.
About the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
The mission of the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) is to optimize the potential for people living with autism and related disabilities. UM-NSU CARD currently serves Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties. Learn more at www.card.miami.edu.