2-Part Webinar: Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library

200716-MacMillan-Serving-Deaf-Patrons-ind300Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library
A two-part online workshop, each session lasting 90 minutes, on Thursdays, September 17 and 24, 2020 , 2:30pm Eastern/1:30 Central/12:30 Mountain/11:30am Pacific

Library services are for everyone, and that includes the deaf community. In this workshop, Kathy MacMillan, librarian and certified American Sign Language interpreter, guides you in making your library a more welcoming place for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing. You will gain an understanding of Deaf culture, learn library-related signs, and become prepared to confidently work with interpreters for your programs.

$75 per person; discounts available for groups and American Library Association Members.

Register now.

Quarantine Specials!: Updated Online Storytime and Professional Development Offerings

Book an interactive session and celebrate American Sign Language through stories, songs, and more – all while social distancing in the comfort of your own home!

For Kids and Families

For Kids and Families

Kathy MacMillan presents interactive theme-based classes that combine age-appropriate signs and activities with follow-up handouts and crafts sent electronically. Sessions take place online via Zoom with link provided by presenter. Program content will be tailored to age of participants. Check my availability calendar and identify your preferred dates and times.


  • 45-minute session for up to 10 participants: $75
  • 45-minute session for 11-50 participants: $100
  • 60-minute session for up to 10 participants: $100
  • 60-minute session for 11-50 participants: $150
  • Access to recording for 3 months following live session: $100

Select from the many Little Hands Signing theme sessions available.

Policies and Booking Information


Live Online Storytimes for Libraries

Looking to bring exciting, interactive content to your patrons? Kathy MacMillan presents interactive, high-energy online storytimes that teach basic American Sign Language for all ages. Sessions can take place via the live social media platform of your choice or online via Zoom and recording access is included. Program content will be tailored to age of participants. Check my availability calendar and identify your preferred dates and times.


  • 15-minute live storytime: $200
  • each additional 15-minute live storytime: $100
  • 30-minute live storytime:  $350
  • each additional 30-minute live storytime: $200

Select from the many themes available, or contact me about creating an online storytime to meet your library’s needs!

Policies and Booking Information


Online Professional Development for Librarians

Online Professional Development for Librarians and Educators

The following webinars offered through the American Library Association. Please contact ALA Editions Webinars to schedule a session for your library or consortium:

  • Creating Outstanding Online Storytimes (90 minutes): Join veteran storyteller Kathy MacMillan to explore the fundamental differences between online and in-person storytimes and best practices to bring early literacy programming into an online environment. Learn how to plan video-friendly programs, how to keep your programming interactive even when you don’t have live feedback from storytime attendees, and how to manage external stresses such as technological glitches and internal stresses such as camera fright
  • Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library, Parts 1 and 2 (each 90 minutes): This two-part online workshop offers an overview of the different ways deaf people communicate, strategies for meeting your library’s legal obligation to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons, strategies for communicating with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person in the library, basic library signs, and tips for finding, hiring, and working with interpreters.
  • Liven Up Baby and Toddler Storytimes with Sign Language (90 minutes): Signing with young children of any hearing ability fosters bonding, stimulates language development, and reduces frustration for caregiver and child. Learn how to use sign language in storytimes to broaden their appeal and make them more participative. In this interactive workshop, Kathy MacMillan—American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, librarian, and storyteller—will use video examples to provide easy-to-learn signs that can be retaught and incorporated into stories, rhymes, and songs. You will be able to use the skills learned in this workshop to create programs that will help you, your staff, and parents communicate better with children.

The following webinars are offered directly through Stories By Hand. Sessions take place online through Zoom. Prices are for live session for up to 50 people; 3 months of recording access may be added for $100 per workshop. Please see Policies and Booking Information to schedule these webinars:

  • Little Hands Signing Professional Development Storytime (1 hour webinar; $250): An interactive theme-based “annotated storytime” that teaches basic ASL vocabulary and demonstrates how to use the signs in storytime activities. Children of participants are welcome to join for the first 40 minutes. The final 20 minutes will consist of lecture and Q&A.Choose from 5 different vocabulary themes: Feelings Signs, First Signs, Colors Signs, Family Signs, or Animal Signs.
  • Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff (2 hour webinar; $350): The deaf patron approaches the reference or circulation desk…but you don’t panic. Thanks to this interactive workshop, you know the basic of how to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons and can introduce yourself and help the patron navigate the library.
  • Create a Calmer Classroom with American Sign Language (2 hour webinar; $350): No matter what age you work with, using basic American Sign Language with students can enhance student understanding, address different learning styles, and create calm. You’ll leave this session armed with a toolbox of signs to start using right away.
  • Hands-on Storytimes (2 hour webinar; $350): This presentation will cover the benefits of using basic ASL with all children, and offer a variety of simple techniques for making your programs more fun, educational, and participative through the use of signs with audiences of all ages. Participants will leave armed with a vocabulary of very basic signs to start using right away.
  • Little Hands Signing in the Classroom (2 hour workshop; $350): Studies show that using American Sign Language with hearing children can improve vocabulary, reading comprehension, defuse behavior issues, support a variety of learning styles, and increase overall interest in learning! Learn the fascinating reasons behind this phenomenon as well as strategies for incorporating into your classroom.
  • Sign, Baby, Sign! (2 hour workshop; $350): Babies can sign long before they can speak, and research shows that using sign language with both hearing and deaf babies imparts language benefits that can last a lifetime. Learn the benefits of using signs with babies and toddlers, as well as ways to incorporate signs into your program and educate parents in baby sign. Participants will leave with a basic vocabulary of signs to use right away.
  • Working with a Sign Language Interpreter (1 hour webinar; $250): Communicating through a third party can be stressful for everyone involved – but it doesn’t have to be that way! Participants in this workshop will develop an understanding of the interpreter’s role, and will learn how to effectively communicate through an interpreter.

Check my availability calendar to identify your preferred dates and times.

Policies and Booking Information

and Educators

Policies and Booking Information


Payment: Sessions booked by individuals will not be confirmed until payment is received. Individual payment may be made online via PayPal, Square, or Venmo. Institutions may pay by check or credit card.

Cancellations: Sessions cancelled with less than 24 hours notice for any reason will be billed in full.

Platform: Unless otherwise agreed, sessions will be conducted online via Zoom. Presenter is not responsible for technical difficulties at the receiving end. 

Photos and Recording: Unless otherwise agreed upon, recording is not permitted without the express permission of the presenter and all attendees. 3 months of recording access may be added to the live event for $100. Live Online Storytimes for Libraries include recording permission and access.

Interpreters: The presenter can present in either spoken English or American Sign Language. If an interpreter is needed, it is the responsibility of those booking the session to work out those logistics prior to the session.

Proceeding with contractual agreement implies acceptance of terms.

To book an appearance:

  • Check my availability calendar and identify your preferred dates and times.
  • Fill out the contact form here. Include your contact information, estimated number of program participants, and choices of dates/times.
  • I will check dates/times and reply to you with a confirmation.
  • Please read the policies above carefully. A cancellation fee will apply as described above.

Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library, Part 2 Follow-up

Thanks to everyone who attended Part 2 of my ALA Editions webinar, Serving Deaf Patrons in the Library!  I hope you found lots of great ideas and resources to improve your library’s service to this underserved group!

As promised, here is a complete list of links and resources mentioned in the webinar.  Please feel free to post additional comments or question here, or email me at info@storiesbyhand.com.

Video: An Example of the Difference Between ASL and English

Tips for Finding and Working with interpreters

Sign Language Interpreters in Your Library: What You Need to Know

Chart of state regulations concerning interpreters

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Interpreter/Agency Locator Tool

The Hearing and Speech Agency (home of the Community Access Partnership)

FCC Video Relay Service Factsheet and Consumer Guide

ASL resources for educators and librarians

The Basics of Working with an Interpreter

What does an interpreter do?

An interpreter facilitates communication between people who use different languages. An interpreter must be skilled in both languages, as well as skilled in the process of interpreting.

What does an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter do?

An ASL interpreter facilitates communication between hearing people who don’t sign and deaf people who use American Sign Language.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the provision of qualified interpreters for services provided by state and local governments, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and private entities related to educational and occupational certification.

How do I know if an interpreter is “qualified”?

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf provides testing for national certification. The National Association of the Deaf has also provided such testing in the past; currently the RID and NAD systems have been combined into the National Interpreter Certification (NIC), administered by RID. Some states have their own licensure or separate testing systems. Interpreters may also hold degrees from various interpreter training programs throughout the country. Though some states require state licensure or certification, in many other states no certifications are currently required to work as an interpreter.  When hiring an interpreter directly, certification is your assurance that the interpreter has been screened by a knowledgeable panel and deemed skilled.  When hiring an interpreter through an agency, be sure to ask about the agency’s screening process. 

When scheduling an interpreter, be prepared to provide this important information:

  • date and time
  • setting (job interview, staff meeting, awards ceremony, etc.)
  • the length of the assignment
  • the number of deaf and hearing people who will attend
  • the deaf person’s name (if known)
  • contact person’s name and phone number
  • directions and parking instructions
  • as much information as possible about the setting and content, including speaker outlines, agendas, programs, whether there will be a visual presentation such as a video, etc.

The more information the interpreter has ahead of time, the more effective the communication experience can be for everyone!

When working with an interpreter:

  • Allow time beforehand for the interpreter to preconference with the presenter or meeting leader.
  • Work with the interpreter in advance to decide how such issues as turn-taking and interrupting for clarification will be handled.
  • Remember that the interpreter will interpret everything she sees and hears. If you don’t want it interpreted, don’t say it!
  • Look at and speak to the deaf person, not the interpreter.
  • Remember that the interpreter will be using processing time and so will be at least a few words behind the speaker. Allow time for deaf participants to receive the message and respond to any questions asked.
  • If the participants will have visual information to study, make sure to allow time for the deaf participants to watch these things and then the interpreter sequentially.
  • Remember that the interpreter will need breaks – don’t expect a single interpreter to work for two hours straight.

Additional resources:

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf: http://www.rid.org

The official website of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf includes information on how to become an interpreter, information for consumers on hiring and working with interpreters, and a variety of useful “Standard Practice Papers” on topic such as business practices for interpreters, coordinating interpreters for conferences, and working with interpreters in specialized settings such as legal and medical sites.

Northeast Technical Assistance Center: How to Hire a Qualified Interpreter http://www.netac.rit.edu/downloads/TPSHT_Hire_Qual_Interp.pdf

Gives specific advice on how to find a qualified interpreter.

Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center: http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/

The premiere source of information about deafness online, with fact sheets, teacher guides, information about assistive devices, and more.