The ENABLEd Librarian: Becoming an Inclusive Librarian in an Accessible Library

  March 01, 2018 |    Ruth V. Small, Ph.D., Director, Project ENABLE




The ENABLEd Librarian: Becoming an Inclusive Librarian in an Accessible Library

Ruth V. Small, Ph.D., Director, Project ENABLE

Although ALA policies have long supported inclusion and accommodations for people with disabilities, librarians often lack the skills and knowledge to effectively design, implement and evaluate services, resources and programs for patrons with a range of physical, developmental and/or learning disabilities. While this can be a formidable challenge to some libraries and librarians, become acquainted with and applying the principles of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning is a great place to start.

You are probably already familiar with some of the changes in our living environment that have been implemented that use Universal Design principles to provide accessibility to all people. For example, curb cuts in sidewalks were created to accommodate the needs of people in wheelchairs and those with vision disabilities. But, as you may have also discovered, these accommodations have much broader benefits. Curb cuts also help young parents with baby carriages or strollers, kids on roller skaters or skateboards, people on crutches, and those rolling large, heavy carts. It has been generally acknowledged that benefits to the broader population consistently occur whenever Universal Design accommodations and modifications are applied.

The seven principles of Universal Design include Equitable Use, Flexibility in Use, Simple and Intuitive Use, Perceptible Information, Tolerance for Error, Low Physical Effort, and Size and Space for Approach and Use. These principles, applied in the library, focus on the actual environment, itself. They look specifically at the library space and the accessibility of its design and composition. The height of tables, the amount of space between bookshelves, selection of appropriate assistive technologies are all examples of Universal Design issues in libraries.

Universal Design for Learning address the flexibility and variety needed in educational programs and resources to accommodate people with disabilities. For example, they may be used to modify a lesson plan, a PowerPoint presentation, an assignment. Like UD, when UDL principles are applied to teaching and learning processes and materials, all learners benefit.

UDL provides three principles for inclusive education, providing: (1) multiple means of representation (providing information to be learned in a variety of formats), (2) multiple means of action and expression (allowing learners a variety of ways of demonstrating what they have learned), and (3) multiple means of engagement (incorporating multiple options for engaging learning).

There are many sources that explain UD and UDL in greater detail. A few are listed below.


Sources - To access, copy and paste the link into the URL section.

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