Student provides library resource for children with auditory sensitivities

BY Brittany Pavlichko, Web Production Assistant |

Children in Camden County living with auditory sensitivities can take advantage of a new accessory while visiting the library, thanks to Emily Whitley.

Emily Whitley presenting her project to Camden County Library System. Photo Courtesy of Camden County

The College of New Jersey graduate student conceived an idea to implement noise-cancelling headphones in the Camden County Library System. Whitley received an assignment in her multicultural class to create an advocacy initiative for children who have sensory processing issues, or autism, so they can enjoy the library without distractions.

Children living with sensory sensitivities are sensitive to tactile senses, auditory, visual and olfactory stimulation, or a combination of all. Therefore, any loud noises can be painful and can disrupt the learning process and ability to concentrate.

As Whitley conducted research, she discovered there weren’t many resources available to children with auditory sensitives, so she decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign, through which she raised a total of $210 and purchased 50 headphones.

Noise-cancelling headphones. Photo Courtesy of Camden County

Whitley presented her proposal to the library’s administration and worked with children’s services staff members to coordinate the implementation of the headphones, which have padded earphones that block and cancel noise.

“I love Emily’s project since it brings all the wonder and delight of the library to children who would not otherwise be able to enjoy it,” said Camden County Library System Director Linda Devlin. “The headphones allow the library to reach another segment of the communities we serve.”

“This program is just another example of Camden County working to find opportunities to be more inclusive and welcoming to all of our residents,” said Camden County Freeholder William Moen. “It is our hope that children who may have auditory sensitivities and have shied away from visiting our library system in the past, may now consider visiting to see all that we have to offer to our residents.”

Whitley hopes to continue making a difference for children with auditory sensitives.

“I couldn’t help but think that if just one kid is able to enjoy and use the library more because of my initiative, then it was totally worth the effort that everyone put into making this a reality,” she said. “I would love to have the headphones someday be part of every library within the Camden County system, so I hope to continue with it in the future.”

The noise-canceling headphones are currently available for children to use at the children’s service desks at the Vogelson branch in Voorhees Township and the South County branch in Winslow Township.