RLI 281
PriNt DiSaBiLitiES, LiBrariES, aND HiGHEr EDucatiON
9
DECEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Print Disabilities and the Population
The US Government Accountability Office has shown that the numbers of students with disabilities in
post-secondary education is growing—with marked increases in cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia
and autism, and growing populations such as returning veterans.12 A Canadian government survey of
2006 found that disability among children had increased since 2001. Among Canadian children aged 5 to
14 that increase was from 4% to 4.6%. With regard to special education services, parents reported learning
disabilities as the most likely reason their children were receiving services.13
The population of the print disabled is both significant and growing. The Reading Rights Coalition
estimates that there are “30 million Americans who cannot read print because of blindness, dyslexia,
spinal cord injury, and other print disabilities.”14 Notably, vision loss can be a consequence of other
growing health concerns, such as diabetes, which increasingly affects people of all ages. Moreover,
research libraries serve patrons of all ages, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni. According to the
National Institutes of Health,
With the aging of the population, the number of Americans with major eye diseases
is increasing, and vision loss is becoming a major public health problem. By the year
2020, the number of people who are blind or have low vision is projected to increase
substantially…Blindness or low vision affects 3.3 million Americans age 40 and over, or
one in 28…This figure is projected to reach 5.5 million by the year 2020.15
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