Blogger Renee Grassi

Learning About Library Accessibility

What does it mean to make your library accessible?  Is it just a quick evaluation of your space, making sure that your department is ADA compliant? Or is it more than that?

The term accessibility encompasses a wide variety of issues and topics concerning access of those with disabilities.  When we consider accessibility in libraries, we think of library design, allocation of space, furniture, technology, programming, customer service, collections, library websites, volunteer and employment opportunities, library policies and procedures, and more.  Basically, library accessibility is about equal service and access for everyone in all areas of the library experience.  And there’s a lot to learn about it.

ASCLA, a division of ALA, provides free online tip sheets perfect for anyone interested in learning more about library accessibility. These tip sheets provide an overview of each accessibility topic, they share concrete real-world tips and strategies to apply to your service and space, and they highlight further online and learning resources.  Whether you’re a beginner or you’re already informed about accessibility topics, there’s something here for everyone to help make their libraries more accessible.

If you’re a manager and looking for training resources for your staff, you could also consider ASCLA’s AccessAbility Academy.  The AccessAbility Academy shares tips and advice helping prepare library staff to effectively communicate and interact with people with disabilities. It also shares strategies for:

  • interacting and building relationships with library users with disabilities that maximizes their empowerment and engagement
  • effective library outreach to people with disabilities and partnerships with related organizations
  • customer service tips you can apply to all types of library users

Project ENABLE is another fantastic online learning opportunity for libraries seeking information about accessibility. Developed by Dr. Ruth Small and Syracuse University, Project ENABLE (Expanding Non-discriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere) is an IMLS funded project with the goal to provide free in-depth self-paced online training to librarians on appropriate and effective library programs and services to students with disabilities. In addition,  Project ENABLE’s database offers a comprehensive list of resources on a variety of disability related topics, which are easily searchable with just a click of a button. And coming soon–in support of Illinois’ own IMLS funded Targeting Autism Initiative, Project ENABLE will also launch new training modules about serving students with autism.

What have you done to make your youth department or library more accessible? Share your ideas, comments, or suggested resources below!



Today’s guest blogger is Renee Grassi.  Renee is proud to be an active ALSC member. Renee was a member of the ALSC Committee for Special Populations and their Caregivers and one of the founding Board Members of Illinois’s Targeting Autism Initiative. She was also one of the founding members of SNAILS—an Illinois networking group dedicated to developing more accessible libraries to children and teens with disabilities. As a former ALSC blogger, Renee considers herself an advocate for inclusion and accessibility in libraries.  Renee is currently the Youth Services Manager at Dakota County Library System in Dakota County, Minnesota. You can connect with her on her website and on Twitter at @MissReneeDomain.

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