Carlow County Council Library Service marked World Autism Day with the launch of an innovative range of Sensory Services, including joining the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

With the intention of creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all the new services include a variety of supports such as sensory equipment available for use within the libraries, a Sensory Backpack lending scheme, and the provision of social stories tailored to each branch. All are designed to enhance the comfort and accessibility of library visits. 

The Library service has proudly joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network, with all staff receiving comprehensive Sunflower training.

The launch event, officiated by Cathaoirleach Cllr Andrea Dalton and Mayor Cllr Tom O’Neill, signifies a significant milestone in Carlow County Council's ongoing commitment to fostering inclusivity and support for individuals with sensory sensitivities. These initiatives were inspired by a motion put forward by interim Cllr John Cahill last December, demonstrating Carlow County Council's responsiveness to community needs. Funding provided by the Department of Rural and Community Development, matched by Carlow County Council, then enabled these services to be developed.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the newly developed services, Mr Cahill remarked,

"I’m thrilled to see these services being developed. It's great to see these ideas being put into practice, and I look forward to seeing them develop further." He extended his gratitude to members of the advisory group for their invaluable input and to the dedicated library team for their hard work in realising these initiatives.

County Librarian John Shortall emphasised the pivotal role of libraries as inclusive places for all members of the community.

"Libraries are for everyone, and our aim is to make people’s visits as safe and comfortable as possible," he stated, “the introduction of these sensory services is just the first step in Carlow Libraries' ongoing efforts to enhance services in this vital area.”

Regional Director for Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Tristan Casson-Rennie also attended the launch in Carlow and said,

"I am delighted to be here today to witness Carlow Libraries commitment to becoming an inclusive space for those who are living with a Hidden Disability. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a simple tool for wearers to voluntarily share that they have a disability or condition that may not be immediately apparent – and that they may need a helping hand, understanding, or more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces. It is commendable that Carlow Libraries have developed their excellent Sensory Service and recognition of the Sunflower for Library users."


Become a Sunflower Member in five easy steps

  1. Log in to your business account or if you do not have one, register here.
  2. Choose and subscribe to the Sunflower Membership that works best for your business today (available in the memberships section of our online shop)
  3. Purchase Sunflower products to support your colleagues and customers with hidden disabilities
  4. Train your entire workforce using our Sunflower training videos*
  5. Launch and promote your Sunflower Membership to your community as well as the global Sunflower network*

*access restricted dependent on Sunflower Membership level