RLI 286  18 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2015 Developing Inclusive Research Libraries for Patrons and Staff of All Abilities Darlene Nichols, Foundations and Grants Librarian, University of Michigan Library Anna Ercoli Schnitzer, Disability Issues and Outreach Librarian, University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library O ne in five Americans lives with a disability more than half of them live with a disability that significantly impacts how they accomplish day-to-day tasks.1 Almost one in seven Canadians reports having a disability about half of them consider their disabilities to be “severe” or “very severe.”2 Unsurprisingly, those numbers increase with age so, as the population lives longer, there will be more and more people managing a wide range of disabilities in libraries. Additionally, in the US, growing percentages of students with disabilities have been enrolling in postsecondary education over the past few decades,3 resulting in greater representation of students with disabilities among the overall population of undergraduate and graduate students.4 The issue of invisible disabilities is gaining increasing importance and awareness. It is impossible to know how many Americans live with mental health or cognitive disorders, reduced hearing or vision or mobility, learning differences, chronic disease, or other conditions that create difficulties in the performance of jobs and life tasks. Many individuals refrain from identifying their disabilities out of fear of job loss, discrimination, or simple unawareness that adjustments could make their lives more comfortable. It is essential that library workers develop an awareness of the full range of human difference in abilities in order to be best prepared to interact with all patrons and colleagues in a respectful, supportive, and inclusive manner. Canadian and US Law Regarding Accessibility In Canada, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA, 2005) is a provincial Ontario legislation that is proactive in terms of setting out specific deadlines for compliance—outlining milestones that institutions are obliged to meet—such as making library print collections accessible on request (January 2015), ensuring that the institutional website meets accessibility criteria set out in WCAG 2.0 (January 2013, ongoing), and ensuring that staff have been trained to provide inclusive customer service to patrons of all abilities (January 2012). The Canadian Copyright Act also provides legal framework in the form of exceptions for institutions acting on behalf of individuals with disabilities. It is anticipated that the AODA legislation will ultimately be adopted nationally with provinces such as Manitoba and Nova Scotia slowly rolling out their provincial laws based on the AODA. Most research library administrators in the United States are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, established in 1990, defines an individual with a disability “as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others
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