rESEarcH LiBrariES aND iNDiviDuaLS witH PriNt DiSaBiLitiES
DECEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
drive to take home for their screen reader to read aloud via synthesized speech. For students who are
print disabled and wish to self scan, UC Berkeley offers two locations with scanners where a synthesized
speech software program has been installed.
There are many constituencies with print disabilities who have a wide range of information needs.
Some students with learning disabilities may not require special equipment or software, but rather some
special facilities arrangements. A student at one ARL institution requested quiet study space where she
can read the text aloud without disturbing others. Most research libraries can deal with these kinds of
requests, but it is useful to keep in mind that specific kinds of space may be the answer for some user
Going forward, it will be important that universal accessibility be embedded in library and
information products, which are licensed and acquired, so special conversion to a usable format will only
be required for retrospective works. With born-digital texts, e-readers, and other mobile devices, research
libraries must be strong advocates for accessible solutions up front—born-accessible materials—obviating
the need for resource-intensive reformatting and retrofitting.
Although the focus of this report is on primary users, i.e., students, faculty, and staff, many publicly
supported institutions also serve the public. However, in order to be eligible for special services or
accommodations on campus, users with print disabilities need to self-identify and register with disability
services. This registration process, and the desire among some to keep invisible disabilities undisclosed,
likely means that there are more than the officially registered population who would benefit from a more
inclusively designed physical and information environment.
SIDEBAR: ONtariO cOuNciL OF uNivErSity LiBrariES (OcuL) rEPOSitOry
The OCUL Repository and Training Pilot serves as an example of large-scale collaboration and
vision necessary to achieve equality of services for the print disabled.
In partnership with the University of Toronto, OCUL Scholars Portal received an Ontario
government grant to explore an innovative approach that would allow students to more
independently acquire the materials they need for study. The OCUL consortium received funding
to pilot a project that would:
• Build a collective repository of digitized material held in libraries that had been requested by
• Provide an authentication interface for registered print-disabled students that would allow
them to directly access resources in this repository and, if something is not found, to generate
• Develop workshops and tool kits for library staff so that they could more effectively change
processes to improve library support for print-disabled students, for example, developing
acquisition staff scripts for negotiating with vendors on purchasing and licensing accessible
products, as well as requiring all staff to consider accessibility when developing new services
and creating information pages on the web, etc.