Making libraries more accessible to people with special needs

We’ve made libraries more accessible to able-bodied people–so it seems fitting that there is more of a push nowadays to make libraries accessible to individuals with special needs.

I saw the announcement for this webinar on an INALJ blog post, and because I wasn’t able to actually take part in the webinar, I emailed the speaker asking her if she had notes I could send along. She was very gracious, and sent me the link to the archived webinar. I have yet to actually listen to it (yay for being busy), but I wanted to share the link because it has loads of resources.

Even though this is geared toward children librarians, many of the resources can be used to help adults, too, such as the National Library Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired, or websites that review apps.

There are a number of programs at the ALA Annual that talk about accessibility. With any luck, I’ll be able to attend some of them, depending on when they are scheduled and if I am able to get time off of work. Let me know if you’re attending one of these–I’d love to meet up with you!

  1. Are Libraries Providing Equitable Access to Information for Differently- able and Typically-able Groups? What Our Patrons Are Saying and What We Can
  2. Audio Description: The Visual Made Verbal
  3. Easy and Affordable Accessibility
  4. Experimentation and Innovation in Libraries: What We Can Learn from Lean Startups
  5. Library Services for People with Visual or Physical Disabilities that Prevent Them from Reading Standard Print (LSPVD) Interest Group
  6. Universal Accessibility Interest Group (ACRL/LITA)
  7. Why Does Intellectual Freedom Matter to Academic Libraries? (ACRL)

The ones I especially want to attend are #1 and #3. Yes, sometimes libraries treat differently-abled people, well, differently than the able-bodied. One of the primary means of unequal access is the accessibility of the collections–deaf people have difficulty when movies aren’t captioned, and libraries may not have audiobook versions of the print books. And yes, accessibility does NOT have to be expensive! Seriously, with some creativity and conscientious staff, the inaccessible can be made accessible cheap. Or free. Cheap or free are always welcome words for libraries, right?

Other recent discoveries about accessibility I’ve had is a program that CPL takes part in–it provides free spoken book access to people with print disabilities in ways much better than simply purchasing an Overdrive package. I don’t know how I’ve overlooked Bookshare before, but I discovered it when I was looking for jobs to add to my INALJ Illinois page. Bookshare’s whole existence owes itself to that very famous copyright exemption for blind/print disabled individuals. They have an awesome system using volunteers that scan books and then fix the OCR (letter recognition) to catch errors, giving screen readers the ability to read aloud books.

If only we could do captioning of videos in a similar way…

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