A collaboration with NYU’s Moses Center for Student Accessibility and NYU’s Disability, Inclusion, and Accessibility Provostial Working Group, the first-floor room is outfitted with a sensory pod, high-backed chairs and table desks, bean-bag pillows, yoga mats for floor seating, adjustable lighting, and noise-canceling wall paneling. It can accommodate about 12-14 students at one time.
The rooms are tailored for library users who identify as being on the autism spectrum, who have ADHD or otherwise identify as neurodivergent, and those who have a mental health disability, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or anxiety.
Planning for the low-sensory spaces began in 2019, when a graduate student in NYU Steinhardt’s Occupational Therapy department approached NYU Libraries about the benefits of dedicated rooms for neurodiverse students, explains Lauren Kehoe, Accessibility and Accommodations Librarian.
The number of students enrolled in the Moses Center’s Connections Program who identify as neurodiverse has increased by 45 percent in the last three years, according to the Center, which works with students to determine and implement accommodations and to connect them with programs and resources. One of its programs, Connections, aims to support neurodiverse students by providing individual and group services and by promoting a culture of acceptance and belonging.
The Libraries will facilitate the use of the first-floor space, with input and support from the Moses Center. (Students in the Moses Center’s Connection Program will automatically have access, based on availability, but any eligible student can request access from NYU Libraries directly.) The opening of two additional spaces in the spring is expected to expand access, library officials note.
The sensory rooms were developed with funding from the New York State Serving Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary Schools grant program and with help from the Moses Center for Student Accessibility, NYU Steinhardt's Department of Occupational Therapy, the NYU Ability Project, and the Disability, Inclusion, and Accessibility Provostial Working Group.
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