Saturday, 3 December 2011

International Day of People with Disability

Today we celebrate International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). This United Nations sanctioned day ‘aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being’.
We in the library community have proven to be supporters of those who live with a disability by continually offering products and services to support their needs. ALIA, in the guidelines on library standards for people with disabilities, has set out a series of objectives and principles that libraries can follow to better serve the needs of the one in five Australians living with a disability. 

Libraries and organisations around Australia have not only taken on these guidelines, but have discovered new ways to foster a more inclusive environment:
· IFLA has put together a great resource; Access to Libraries for Disabled Persons Checklist that libraries can use to assess their current facilities.
·On the Gold Coast, the Runaway Bay Branch Library regularly holds an audio book club for both sighted and sight impaired patrons 

So today while we reflect how far we have come, we should take a moment to assess our services and facilities and how we might improve going forward. Below is a short (very short) list of thoughts to consider.  

·How are the services we have promoted? Is the message getting to the right people?
·What about people with temporary disabilities? How do we serve them?
·Do we ask patrons if they require extra support when they register? What about in our regular user surveys?
·Do we offer large print versions or audio versions of our printed materials?
· The Web Accessibility Initiate offers practical design considerations libraries can adopt when updating web sites to ensure they can be accessed by all users. 

What are some other ways we can move towards a more inclusive library environment? Where can we improve? What are other programs making a difference?
Post your thoughts in the comments. 

-Amy Barker

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