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This section provides a sample script for Introduction

delivering a half-day to full-day presentation
covering all of the topics listed in the outline. Distribute handouts. Ha
Tailor the script to your chosen program nd
length, content and audience. • Making Library ts
Resources Accessible
to People with
Presentation Outline Disabilities
• Working Together: People
Introduction with Disabilities and Computer
Success stories Technology
Legal issues • Meet the Speakers in the Videotape: Working
Definitions and statistics Together: People with Disabilities and
Computer Technology
General Library Access • World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design
Building and physical environment • Meet the Speakers in the Videotape: World
Staff Wide Access

Adaptive Technology Put up overhead

Assisting people with: Universal Access:
Low vision
Electronic Information
in Libraries
Hearing and speech impairments I’m here today to
Specific learning disabilities share with you infor-
Mobility impairments mation and issues
Health impairments related to people with disabili-
Beginning the process of planning for ties, electronic resources, and libraries.
adaptive technology
Getting started: a list of adaptive
technology devices
Put up overhead Computers
Resources +
transparency. Adaptive Technology
Electronic Resources Electronic Resources
Universal design principles Recent advances in Opportunities
Accessible Web design adaptive computer
General page design technology, greater reli-
Graphical features ance on computers, and increased
Special features availability and networking of electronic
Web pages test information resources have resulted in life-
Resources changing opportunities for many people with
Summary disabilities. In combination, these technolo-
gies provide many people with disabilities

7 Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries

better access to education, careers, and other background, a videotape presentation and
life experiences. discussion of adaptive technology for comput-
ers will bring our focus to electronic resources
Libraries play an important role in ensuring in libraries. The last segment of the program
equitable access to information for all mem- will include the second videotape presenta-
bers of our society. In addition, federal legis- tion and a discussion of universal design of
lation mandates that public institutions, electronic resources applied to the develop-
including libraries, provide accommodations ment of World Wide Web pages.
for people with disabilities so that they can
utilize the same services and resources as Today’s presentation will help you under-
other people. stand the impact of these technologies for
people with disabilities while giving you the
What are some of the electronic resources tools to begin implementing them in your
currently in your library? library. Your packet of handouts is one of the
tools that will help you apply the ideas pre-
Solicit audience input to list items such as CD- sented. Let’s walk through it.
ROM encyclopedias and indexes, online cata-
logs, WWW pages, and full-text databases.
The information covered in this presentation Put up overhead • Making Library Resources Accessable to

will provide you with tools and insights that transparency. People with Disabilities
• Working Together: People with Disabilties and

will help ensure that these electronic resources Computer Technology

• Meet the Speakers in the Videotape: Working

are accessible to the broadest audience. As an Together: People with Disabilities and
Computer Technology

extra benefit, you will find that being sensitive The following hand- • World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design
• Meet the Speakers in the Videotape: World

to the needs of people with disabilities can outs are in your Wide Access

often make access easier for everyone. packet.

• Making Library Resources Accessible

to People with Disabilities
Put up overhead Program Outline
• Working Together: People with Disabilities
transparency. • Success stories
and Computer Technology
• Legal issues, statistics
• General library access • Meet the Speakers in the Videotape:
• Adaptive technology Working Together: People with Disabilities
Our program today • Electronic resources
will cover these five and Computer Technology
topics. To begin I • World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design
will share some success
• Meet the Speakers in the Videotape: World
stories or examples of the impact that
Wide Access
adaptive technology for computers and elec-
tronic resources has had for people with Much of the information presented today is
disabilities. Then we will consider the most provided in these handouts. I will let you
important legislative directives on the issue know which handout covers the information
and look at some statistics about people with we are focusing on as we go through the
disabilities. We will then consider the bigger presentation. Keep the handouts handy to
picture of access to libraries and library ser- save from taking duplicative notes.
vices for people with disabilities. With that

Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries

Success Stories special interest, naval communication.

• Sherri is legally blind, but has enough

Put up overhead sight to use enlarged screen images as she
Success Stories transparency. uses governmental resources on the World
• Ben mobility impairment Wide Web in pursuing her master’s
• Sarah learning disability
• Anna blind degree in public administration.
• Shane mobility/speech impairment
• Sherri low vision
• Katie I’m going to start out
hearing impairment • Katie is hearing impaired. She often
today by sharing with uses a sign language interpreter. On the
you a few stories of Internet, however, Katie communicates
people with disabilities who with the reference librarian quickly and
are able to access information resources easily through electronic mail.
thanks to the availability of adaptive technol-
ogy and accessible electronic resources. These stories provide examples of people with
You’ll meet them in the videotape we’ll view disabilities who are successfully pursuing
shortly. avocations, education, and careers thanks to
adaptive technology and electronic resources.
• Ben cannot use his hands, but muscular During our presentation today, we will be
dystrophy doesn’t interfere with his use learning how to ensure that there will be
of the Internet; he uses a voice input many more success stories like these for
program that allows him to talk his way people with disabilities.
through the Net - six hours a day!

• Sarah uses her library’s online catalog Legal Issues

and the Internet to research and write Section 504/ADA
No otherwise qualified individual
papers for school. Her learning disabil- with a disability shall, solely by
ity makes it difficult for her to read so Put up overhead
reason of his/her disability, be
excluded from the participation
she uses a speech output system to read transparency. in, be denied the benefits of, or
be subjected to discrimination
the screen. under any program or activity of
a public entity.
• Anna is blind. She uses a screen reader According to Section
and speech output system to access her 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
library’s full-text databases and CD- of 1973 (504) and the Americans with
ROMs. Her system works well until Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), “no otherwise
she runs into programs not designed qualified individual with a disability shall,
according to universal design prin- solely by reason of his/her disability, be
ciples. excluded from the participation in, be denied
the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimina-
• Shane surfs the Net with a small tube in
tion under any program or activity of a public
his mouth. The computer obeys his
every command as he inputs Morse code
- sip for a dot, puff for a dash. His cere- The ADA and the regulations promulgated to
bral palsy is only a minor inconvenience implement it have stressed that people with
as he researches information on his disabilities should be provided the same

1973 Rehabilitation Act, Public Law 93:112; The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Public Law 101:336.

9 Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries

services as others, unless this would be less edly held that the term “communication”
effective. The Department of Justice has in this context means the transfer of infor-
stated that “Integration is fundamental to the mation, including (but not limited to) the
purpose of the American with Disabilities verbal presentation of a lecture, the printed
Act.” If accommodation, or an adjustment is text of a book, and the resources of the
needed to make a resource, program or facility Internet.
accessible to a person with a disability, the
individual’s preference of accommodation The letter continues:
must be given primary consideration.2
Title II further states that, in determining
In short, libraries must assure that people what type of auxiliary aid and service is
with disabilities can participate in library necessary, a public college shall give pri-
programs and utilize library resources as mary consideration to requests of the
independently as possible. And this includes individual with a disability [28 C.F.R. ss
electronic information resources. As legal 35.106(b)(2)].3
questions about the implications of the ADA
for access to electronic information resources
“The more technology that has
are tested, libraries are being required to Put up overhead been purchased by a public
provide access to transparency. library to serve non-disabled
patrons, the more reasonable
these services. the expectation that it will
“Title II of the ADA requires a
employ technology... to serve
college to take appropriate steps
In providing guid- its patrons with disabilities”.
ensure that communications with
sons with disabilities “are as effect
ance on expectations
as communications with others.”
Put up overhead has repeatedly held that the term
OCR for libraries in

munication” in this contest mean
transfer of information, including
s the providing access to
not limited to) the verbal presentatio
a lecture, resources of the Intern
nof electronic resources, the letter states:

Modern adaptive technology has radically

affected the degree to which it is economi-
According to decisions in recent cally feasible to make printed materials
cases on access to electronic resources, and computer based information systems
libraries in academic institutions must accessible to blind patrons. The larger and
proactively and deliberately plan for accessi- more financially endowed the library, the
bility. A recent letter from the U.S. Depart- higher the expectation that a greater vol-
ment of Education Office for Civil Rights ume of information will be made available
noted: within a shorter amount of time, particu-
larly when reasonably priced adaptive
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities
technology is available to replace tasks that
Act requires a public college to take appro-
previously required personnel. An impor-
priate steps to ensure that communications
tant indicator regarding the extent to
with persons with disabilities “are as
which a public library is obligated to
effective as communications with others”
utilize adaptive technology is the degree to
[28 C.F.R. ss 35.160(a)]. OCR has repeat-

56 Federal Register 35703.
United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Case Docket No. 09-97-2002 Letter of April 7, 1997
addressed to Dr. James Rosser, President, California State University, Los Angeles. Available
law/csula.html. Related information is available at

Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries

which it is relying on technology to serve may include, but are not limited to, spinal
its non-disabled patrons. The more tech- cord injuries, loss of limbs, multiple sclerosis,
nology that has been purchased by a public muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, hearing
library to serve non-disabled patrons, the impairments, visual impairments, speech
more reasonable the expectation that it will impairments, specific learning disabilities,
employ technology such as scanners to head injuries, psychiatric disorders, diabetes,
serve its patrons with disabilities.4 cancer, and AIDS.

As libraries increasingly provide electronic The examples listed here are conditions which
resources, they are legally obligated to ensure limit people’s abilities to perform specific
accessibility for people with disabilities. tasks. Some of these conditions are readily
apparent; some are invisible. Some require
that we provide special accommodations in
Definitions and Statistics the library; some do not. Additionally, some
So, what exactly does “person with a disabil- people who have conditions with the same
ity” mean? label may have very different abilities when it
comes to performing specific tasks. For
example, one student who has cerebral palsy
Person with a disability = Put up overhead may have difficulty walking. For another
any person who: transparency. student, cerebral palsy may result in no func-
• has a physical or mental tional use of her/his hands or voice.
impairment which
substantially limits one or
more major life activities.
“Person with a disabil- Now that we discussed the definition of
• has a record of such an
impairment. ity” means “any person disability according to the ADA, let’s consider
• is regarded as having such some statistics to gain a better understanding
an impairment. who has a physical or
mental impairment which of this service population.
substantially limits one or more major
life activities including walking, seeing,
hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and Put up overhead
working; has a record of such an impairment; transparency. 1 in 10 Americans
or is regarded as having such an impairment.” has a severe disability
that limits at least one
major life activity.

According to surveys
Put up overhead Examples of Disabilities
conducted in 1991-1992,
transparency. • spinal cord injuries • speech impairments 9.6% or 1 in 10 Americans
• loss of limbs • specific learning
• multiple sclerosis disabilities
• head injuries
has a severe disability that substan-
• muscular dystrophy
• cerebral palsy • psychiatric disorders
• diabetes
tially limits at least one major life activity. 19.4
• hearing impairments

Examples of qualify- • visual impairments • cancer % or 1 in 5 Americans has a disability. 5


ing disabilities In addition, we can expect the number of

covered by legislation library patrons with disabilities to increase.

“Americans With Disabilities: 1991-1992”. Current Population Reports, Series P70-33. Information also available at

11 Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries

Some reasons for this increase include:
Put up overhead
transparency. Age % Disabilities
18-44 5%
The number of patrons with Put up overhead 65-74
disabilities will increase
because of:
transparency. Among people aged
• advances in medical technology
18-44, 5% have a
• advances in adaptive technology
• increased awareness
severe disability;
Advances in medical
• increased education support among people aged 65-74,
• older average age
technology and tech- 25% have a severe disability; and
niques result in greater among people aged 75-84, 42% have a severe
numbers of people who survive disability. 7
traumatic accidents and problematic births.
All of these factors are leading to increased
Improvements in technology make it possible numbers of people with disabilities who are
for more people with disabilities to live inde- and will be requesting services at libraries.
pendently and have productive lives for which
they will want and need library resources.
Increased awareness of people with disabili-
ties’ rights to accommodations and equal The purpose of this introduction is to help you
opportunities in education and employment, understand why libraries need to be prepared
guaranteed by 504 and the ADA, has, and will to serve people with disabilities. The legal
continue to encourage more people to pursue imperatives of the ADA and other laws and
these activities and request accommodations. the expected increase of people with disabili-
ties in our constituencies and argue strongly
The creation of federal and state mandated K- for immediate action. Libraries will be best
12 and higher education academic support prepared to serve patrons with disabilities if
programs helps more students with disabili- they strive to include them in regularly pro-
ties complete high school and enter college vided services. This is best achieved by using
and careers. The number of students with universal design principles when designing
disabilities enrolled in universities and col- facilities, equipment, services and resources;
leges has already increased. In 1994, 9.2% of by providing a base level of adaptive technol-
all full-time, first-time entering freshman ogy; and by developing a policy and proce-
reported a disability, up from 2.6% in 1978.6 dures for handling requests for accommoda-
This trend will create a greater demand for tion. By taking these steps the library will be
accessible information resources in academic better able to respond quickly to more special-
libraries. ized requests for accommodation.

The aging of the baby boomer generation will The rest of today’s presentation will help you
cause a significant demographic shift in our develop an understanding of adaptive tech-
society, increasing the number of people with nology and of universal design principles so
low vision, hearing impairments, and other that you can help develop accessible services
disabilities related to the aging process. and resources for your library.
Facts You Can Use. “College Freshman with Disabilities.” Information from HEATH. Vol. 14, No. 2,3 June/July 1995.
Americans With Disabilities. Bureau of the Census Statistical Brief. SB/94-1, January 1994. Bureau of the Census, U.S.
Department of Commerce. Available at

Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries