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Library Accessibility Guide: Individuals with Disabilities

Librarian Training

  • Project Enable:  Provides free, foundational training, designed specifically for public, academic or school librarians worldwide, to help them gain the knowledge and skills needed to create inclusive and accessible libraries that meet the needs of all students. If you are new to Project ENABLE, just click on Register above to participate in free training.
  • Accessing Higher Ground Annual Conference on Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference
  • Professional Web Accessibility Auditing Made Easy, OER texts at

Purchasing Librarian Resources

ASCLA “Library Accessibility –What You Need to Know” tool kit series of fifteen tip sheets was developed to help librarians in all types of libraries understand and manage access issues to patrons who have cognitive, mental, or emotional illnesses; patrons with learning and/or developmental disabilities; patrons with service animals; patrons needing assistive technologies; and patrons with physical disabilities.

 ASCLA "Think accessible before you buy": Questions to ask to ensure that the electronic resources your library plans to purchase are accessible"

GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program, "Buy: Procuring Accessible ICT." There is also the BuyAccessibility Wizard.

Green, R.A., & Blair, V. (2011). "Keep it simple: A guide to assistive technologies." Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Report of the ARL Joint Task Force on Services to Patrons with Print Disabilities, November 2, 2012.   

Tatomir Accessibility Checklist (TAC) for the assessment of library databases. Found in Tatomir & Durrance (2010), Library Hi Tech, 28(4). 

Web Accessibility ToolKit: Making Resources Usable & Accessible in Research Libraries, ARL Accessibility Working Group.

Web Librarian Tools

Color Contrast Tool- WebAim According to the WCAG 2 text color contrast requirements.

Google Accessibility Developer Tools- This tool needs Google Chrome

NVDAT- Free Screen Reader

HTML Code Sniffer- Checks HTML source code and detects violations of coding standards.

Photosensitive Epilepsy Analysis Tool (PEAT)- Identify seizure risks in their web content and software.

Universal Access- Design Q&A

Electronic Resources

-- Be sure that the library's World Wide Web pages and other electronic resources are designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Consider these items in ensuring accessible electronic resources.

-- Do electronic resources with images and sound provide text alternatives to these formats? Is the design consistent with clear navigation paths?

-- Can the library's electronic resources including online catalogs, indexes, and full-text databases accessed with a variety of adaptive computer technologies such as screen readers and speech synthesis?

-- Do collection development policy statements specifically state that electronic products should be evaluated for accessibility as part of the purchasing process?

-- Do library Web page style guidelines require that pages be designed in an accessible format?

-- Are librarians prepared to assist patrons with electronic resources that they cannot access by providing research consultations or materials in other formats?


Adaptive Technology for Computers

-- At least one adjustable table for each type of workstation in the library can assist patrons with mobility impairments or who use wheelchairs.

-- Large print key labels can assist patrons with low vision.

-- Software or a machine to enlarge screen images can assist patrons with low vision and learning disabilities.

-- Large monitors of at least 17 inches can assist patrons with low vision and learning disabilities.

-- A speech output system can be used by patrons with low vision, blindness and learning disabilities.


Building Access and Environment

-- Are there ample high-contrast, large print directional signs throughout the library? Are shelf and stack identifiers provided in large print?

-- Are library study rooms available for patrons with disabilities who need to bring personal equipment or who need the assistance of a reader?

-- Are hearing protectors, private study rooms, or study carrels available for users who are distracted by noise and movement around them?

-- Does the library have a written description of services for patrons with disabilities, including procedures and information on how to request special accommodations? These policies and procedures should be advertised on the the library website and in library publications.

-- Are large print or online versions of library handouts and guides available?


Library Staff/ Services

-- Are staff aware of disability issues?

-- Are there regular refresher courses to help staff keep their skills up-to-date?

-- Are staff trained in policies and procedures for providing accommodations to patrons with disabilities? Are staff aware of services provided for people with disabilities?

-- Does the library have a designated staff member who coordinates services for patrons with disabilities who monitors adaptive technology developments and responds to requests for accommodation?

For a comprehensive listing, please visit Universal Access, Making Library Resources Accessible to People with Disabilities