Disabilities and library accessibility: Partnering for success

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  • Introduction: This presentation describes the results of an innovative interprofessional partnership between the University of Alberta’s Libraries (UAL), Specialized Support and Disability Services (SSDS), Occupational Therapy, and Industrial Design, to assess library spaces for patrons with disabilities. Methods: For this pilot project, our multi-pronged approach involved: 1) compiling statistics on types of disabilities represented on campus; and 2) completing a library accessibility audit. Results: Over 1000 students were registered with SSDS. Disabilities went beyond mobility issues; psychiatric and learning disabilities were the most common. The accessibility audit revealed way-finding and wheelchair access issues; improved signage, photos, smartphone apps, and a call button feature were among the suggested solutions. Discussion: This project initially set out to investigate physical barriers to resource and service use in the library spaces at the UAL. Based on findings from the pilot project, in addition to physical accessibility, we are now focusing on assessing features that impact cognitive and perceptual load, before rolling out the audit to other libraries on campus. We are also nurturing a closer collaboration with SSDS, and are laying the groundwork to embed a librarian into the SSDS office to better understand and respond to students’ library and information needs.

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    Conference/Workshop Poster
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    Attribution 3.0 International