RLI 281
uNivErSaL DESiGN, iNcLuSivE DESiGN, accESSiBiLity, aND uSaBiLity
Libraries and librarians do not need to become experts in every disability to meet the goals of
universal or inclusive design. Rather, research libraries should advocate for content portability so that
users can use the devices they prefer. A person with dyslexia might want to read text on a screen the size
of a smart phone, a blind person might want that same content on a text-to-speech-enabled iPad. Research
libraries should promote both portable content and discovery tools that can be effectively accessed by
adaptive or assistive technologies.
In an open letter to all librarians, written in 2011, the President of the National Federation for the
Blind, Marc Mauer, wrote: “Libraries can meet their obligations by adopting and publicizing accessibility
policies; incorporating accessibility into their technology procurement, development, and testing
processes; holding vendors accountable for accessibility; training staff; seeking input directly from
patrons with disabilities; and conducting regular audits of accessibility.”60
The Canadian study of databases and screen readers concluded:
The digital collection of articles, books and resources provides greater access to resources
24/7 for our students. Various sectors are benefiting from digital access like distance
education students and to a certain extent, students with print disabilities. While the print
collection of a library is usually inaccessible to students with print disabilities, a database
that can offer accessible features like simplified search screens will mean instant access to
resources. As the digital information world continues to grow and offer more and more
features for its users, it must also evolve to take into consideration the needs of these
students. The Academic library and database vendors must work together, in consultation
with students with print disabilities, to ensure technology opens up doors and tears down
walls. To allow barriers to exist in this technological advanced age would prove to be the
greatest failure of the twenty-first century library.61
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