What is a “Disability?”<br />The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits <br /> one or more of the major life activities of an individual.”<br />Who are “Disabled?”<br />The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 describes handicapped people as “individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life function such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, etc. “<br />
Does Your Library Serve Any of These People?<br /><ul><li>More than 8 million Americans have hearing problems
The National Institute of Health now estimates that more than 39 million Americans have learning disabilities. </li></li></ul><li>Differently <br />Abled<br />Myths and Facts<br />
MYTH: People with disabilities have a hard time and deserve special treatment.<br />FACT: Most people with disabilities don’t consider themselves victims and don’t want pity. Most people with disabilities don’t consider themselves as heroes and ordinarily do not want admiration. These individuals live lives which have simply adapted to their limitations or uniqueness because most disabilities are invisible.<br />
MYTH: Persons with disabilities need to be protected from failing.<br />FACT: Persons with disabilities have a right to participate in the full range of human experiences including success and failure. Employers should have the same expectations of, and work requirements for, disabled employees.<br />
MYTH: People with disabilities create a lot of problems for libraries.<br />FACT: Focus on people with disabilities has stimulated libraries to examine their missions and to reach a new or previously underserved client group. Staff training has improved staff skills and service provision for all library users. For the most part, staff may never notice that an individual is disabled. <br />
MYTH: Employees with disabilities have a higher absentee rate than employees without disabilities.<br />FACT: Studies by firms such as DuPont show that employees with disabilities are not absent any more than employees without disabilities.<br />
MYTH: Considerable expense is necessary to accommodate workers or library patrons with disabilities.<br />FACT: Most workers or patrons with disabilities require no special accommodations. The cost for those who do is minimal or much lower than many believe. Studies by the Office of Disability Employment Policy's Job Accommodation Network have shown that 15% of accommodations cost nothing, 51% cost between $1 and $500, 12% cost between $501 and $1,000, and 22% cost more than $1,000.<br />
There are disabled individuals all around us: people who are mentally or physically challenged. <br />Don't count on being able to identify these people. Many disabilities are invisible: deafness; hearing problems; heart and breathing problems; learning disabilities and more. <br />A fundamental philosophy of library services is to serve the disabled.<br />The challenge of providing excellent service to all patrons, including those with disabilities, is paramount to fulfilling the library’s mission.<br />Library staff can make a difference in the lives of persons with obvious or invisible disabilities. <br />
Individuals with disabilities are people first, and like all people they want to be accepted and understood. <br />They want other people to know that their disability is not all that they are.<br />They have the same information needs as any other segment of the population but often require innovative strategies for access.<br />
Library Compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act<br />The American Library Association states that people with disabilities are a large and neglected minority and are severely underrepresented in the library profession. <br />Libraries can play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. <br />And libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources and services meet the needs of all people. <br />
ASCLA: Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy for ADA Compliance<br />#1. All libraries must provide equitable access <br />for persons with disabilities to library facilities<br />and services as required by Section 504 of <br />the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, applicable <br />state and local statutes and the Americans <br />with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).<br />
#2. Libraries must not discriminate against individuals with disabilities and ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to library resources.<br />#3. Architectural barriers in the library building and existing facilities, and communication barriers that are structural in nature, be removed as long as such removal is “readily achievable.”<br />
#4. Library materials should be accessible to all patrons, including people with disabilities, in a variety of formats and with accommodations. The modified formats and accommodations should be “reasonable,” which do not “fundamentally alter” the library’s services, and does not place an “undue burden” on the library.<br />
#5. Library staff should be aware of how available technologies address disabilities and know how to assist all users with library technology. <br />#6. Libraries must provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities unless the library can show that the accommodations would impose an “undue hardship” on its operations.<br />
#7. Libraries should provide training opportunities for all library employees and volunteers in order to sensitize them to issues affecting people with disabilities and to teach effective techniques for providing services for users with disabilities and for working with colleagues with disabilities.<br />
As many librarians have discovered, being ADA compliant is important, however, it does not ensure that disabled patrons will be able to use your library.<br />Many remedies simply require educating library personnel about accessibility problems and training them to make appropriate responses. <br />The good news is that many obstacles within the library are readily and inexpensively correctable. <br />
It is necessary for the library<br /> to develop a plan that<br /> would allow the library<br /> to purchase the<br /> essential tools which <br /> will help the most<br /> people. <br /> It is also necessary to<br /> ensure that the staff is <br /> aware of available<br /> tools and trained to<br /> use them. <br />
Differently <br />Abled<br />What’s the Plan?<br />
<ul><li>Does your mission statement and library policies relate to goals for providing for this population?
Are your facilities architecturally accessible?
Do you possess materials in appropriate alternative formats?
Does your collection address the information needs of this group?
Do you offer an enhanced or extended service for this group?
Do you offer accessible equipment and adaptations needed for this group?
Is your staff trained in providing services for this population?</li></li></ul><li>The Ten Point Process<br /><ul><li>Educate Yourself and Gather Information</li></ul>About the Library<br />About the Community<br />About individual users and non-users<br /><ul><li>Come Together and Talk About It</li></ul>People with disabilities, their families and caregivers<br />Related agencies and organizations<br />Library staff do’s and don’ts<br />
<ul><li>Identify your Key Issues</li></ul>Community strengths and weaknesses<br />Analyze and prioritize the issues<br />Select the issues the library can best address<br /><ul><li>Analyze the Library’s Current Plan</li></ul>Is each section inclusive for the disabled?<br />Are identified issues being addressed?<br />What are other libraries doing?<br />
<ul><li>Draft goals and objectives</li></ul>Develop objectives and activities of special interest to people with disabilities.<br /><ul><li>Determine available resources</li></ul> Position the library as an information access point for people with disabilities, their relatives and their service providers.<br /><ul><li>Finalize goals and objectives</li></ul>Guarantee that library services are available on an equal basis to all members of the community.<br /><ul><li>Draft it and Get it done</li></ul>Attract people with disabilities to use the library.<br />
Braille books </li></li></ul><li><ul><li> Keep maps of the library on hand </li></ul> for patrons with disabilities.<br /><ul><li> “Police” public areas to check </li></ul> for impediments to flowing <br /> traffic.<br /><ul><li> Practice using all library </li></ul> equipment modified for use by <br /> people with disabilities.<br />
<ul><li>Review the basics of etiquette for serving patrons with disabilities.
Share stories and successful service techniques with other </li></ul> staff. <br /><ul><li>Maintain vigilance of the building and furnishings for general obstacles.
Create appropriate signage. </li></li></ul><li>Promote Your Accessibility<br /><ul><li>Make your website user friendly
Provide volunteer technology assistants in the library
Provide an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter or real-time captioning at library programs
Provide radio reading services</li></li></ul><li>Differently <br />Abled<br />Staff<br />Development <br />
Disabled All Over<br />Have you ever raised your voice when speaking with a blind person?<br />Have you ever noticed a waiter ignoring a person with a disability by asking their companion what they will order?<br />Have you ever noticed someone making facial contractions while speaking to a hearing impaired person?<br />This stigma is called “Spread.”<br />“Spread” depersonalizes the disabled person. It focuses on an individual’s inability to do something. <br />
The Importance of Attitude<br />Ask most people with disabilities to name the biggest barrier to equal service and they will answer with one word – attitude.<br />The best written policies and most up-to-date adaptive equipment will only gather dust if employees do not foster a sense of unbiased welcome to all people and encourage them to use the equipment.<br />
Changing Attitudes with Information<br />Changing staff attitudes can be done successfully in two ways:<br /><ul><li>Increasing the knowledge of disabling conditions and the effects these have on individuals.
Increasing contact with persons with disabilities.</li></li></ul><li>Next Steps . . .<br /><ul><li>Talk to Each Other</li></ul> In-House training and workshops <br /> Invite community speakers<br /> Provide staff orientation on equipment<br /> Build understanding and empathy<br /><ul><li>Establish a Mission Statement</li></ul> Be specific about what services you will or will not provide<br /> Put it in writing and review it <br /> Everyone who serves the public must be aware of library policy<br />
<ul><li>Invite Them and They Will Come</li></ul> Evaluate your Physical Space<br /> Make your library accommodating<br /> Offer library directories and maps<br /> Prepare a safety plan and practice it<br /><ul><li>Check Your Attitude</li></ul> Be patient and service oriented<br /> Be a positive force <br /> Pity comes from an attitude of <br /> “see what they cannot do.”<br /> Respect comes from an attitude of “see what they can do!”<br />
Practical Applications<br />PROBLEM: An adult patron vocalizes inappropriately, disturbing other patrons or staff members. <br />SOLUTION: Ask the vocalizing adult to relocate away from a quiet study area and provide comparable facilities. Try to err on the side of accommodation going as far as possible to aide the patron.<br />PROBLEM: A staff member is unable to understand a patron.<br />SOLUTION: Be patient. Allow the patron to completely finish his thought or sentence. Don’t jump in with what you think he is trying to say. Ask the patron to write it down. <br />
Practical Applications<br />PROBLEM: A patron does not respond when addressed.<br />SOLUTION: The patron may be deaf or hearing impaired. Attempt to attract attention by gently tapping on the counter or waving your hand in the patron’s line of sight without getting in his face.<br />PROBLEM: A patron asks a staff member for help with personal tasks.<br />SOLUTION: Politely decline. As a rule, tasks patrons perform in their own homes such as using the toilet, washing or getting into or out of a wheelchair do not require additional assistance from staff members. <br />
C <br /> Conclusion:<br /> Library personnel need to be <br /> proactive and begin with small changes.<br />By continually reminding and educating <br />each other, librarians will heighten sensitivity to disabled library users and reduce the environmental barriers they face. The visibly and invisibly disabled are sometimes socially excluded marginalized people. These are those who need to <br />develop a foundation of trust through respect and<br /> dignity before they will become actual library<br />users. All efforts toward improving <br /> accessibility will result in improved <br />library services for all. <br />
References<br />American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-336, Section I(b), Section 3)<br />ASCLA. (2001). Issues: Library services for people with disabilities. Retrieved February 16, 2011 from http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/ascla/asclaissues/libraryservices.cfm<br />Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section 504 U.S. Code 706(7)B, supplement V (1981)<br />Rubin, Rhea Joyce. (2001). Planning for library services for people with disabilities. Chicago, IL: ASCLA.<br />Wright, Keith & Davie, Judith. (1991). Serving the disabled: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. New York, NY: Neal-Shuman Publishers, Inc.<br />
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