Friday, May 9, 2008

The Universal Library: Access for the New Millenium

This session provided great team teaching by two accessabilty experts.

Very practical approach with great examples, this talk mentioned media resources and
practical examples. Highly recommend contacting either speaker for more information. I heard that both of these speakers are willing to make a visit to "your library".

Mary-Anne Parker O’Toole, Director of Information
Management/Librarian, Institute for Human Centered
Design, Adaptive Environments

Linda Stetson, Director,
Millis Public Library.

I missed the first half of the presentation regrettably, but here are some highlights that I did catch.
So who reads Playboy for the articles? Playboy in braille is provided "just for the articles".

Any degreed librarian can certify someone to qualify for Talking Books
Deal directly with the patrons to design their profiles. A real senior lady replied after having her
profile limited by her daughter to exclude violence, strong language, and sex
"Well, honey that's the only way I get it any more! "

Stetson also shared a heartwarming story about a blind man with a dog, who lead a group of people out of the second tower on 911


Door openers are not required, but are wonderful for the handicapped
Slippery floors
Contrasting colors (Aging eyes: on average one has half the vision at age 50, as age 25)
between the door and the floor
between the chair and the floor
between the wall and the floor

Staff areas need to be considered too. To allow for the handicapped and to prevent
problems (carpal tunnel)

Variety in furniture, some chairs work well for people, some don't. Remember some people can't get out of bean bag chairs!


Adjustable shelves
Consider where you put things; make them accessible


Go Green - Compact energy efficient florescent bulbs are good

Increase room lighting
Avoid bright light in a dark room

Provide alternatives lighting
Ceiling light
Desk lamps for those that need more light


Computer screens
Replace the old ones (they do admit radiation)
Consider the resolution
Put them on adjustable tables, use adjustable arms

Computer chairs
Choose the ones that are adjustable
Provide a variety of chairs

People don't want to ask
People want to be independent
Provide signage that is large and prominent
Decorate so people know what room they are in (e.g. children's room)
Use icons, images, logos

Acoustical Clouds
Ceiling Tiles
Sound dome - (good for teen spaces; keeps sound in one location)

Sound (some people navigate by sound; put in a small waterfall)

Use it to provide more services
Podcast run through quicktime to provide it in the written word
Blogging, email, and the written word important for deaf people
Telephone with a text screen

Make sure to use words with Alt tags - A reader will read these tags
as (e.g. Here's a picture of a horse)

Avoid tables to layout the page, these are not read well by screen readers
Use cascading style sheets:
Try CSS Zen Garden - all the same to a screen reader

Lots of research out there. Consider the future. Remember that many people with handicaps
use the web in many ways (Facebook....)

Check walkers out at the stacks, so you can load books into the walker and move them to the desk.

1 comment:

SaveOurBranchLibraries said...

It is refreshing to read this article about Universal Access with libraries. Mary O'Toole is an excellent speaker from Adaptive Env. I believe public libraries are and can be over-looked as places needing to provide full access to people with disabilities.

I am from Newton, a large city suburb of Boston. On May 8th, the Newton Free Library took actions with the Board of Alderman, and put on the agenda the closing of all four of our branch libraries. This has had a devasting impact on our community. People who lived across the street from the Newton Corner Branch Library in an assisted living, are now left without library services. Before, they could browse through books at our wonderfully accessible branch library across the street, talk with the librarian, Tai, who seems to know everyone by name and even the books they like. There were book clubs and other meetings to bring people together. All of this is gone. Each of our 13 villages in Newton has now lost something very special. Auburndale, Waban, and Nonantum branch libraries had excellent programs for children and adults. In Nonantum, we read a letter by a woman who wrote she was from Russia, and learned English at this branch library. At a recent board meeting with the Trustees, a woman brought in her young daughter with a disability, and told of how her daughter just loves the branch libraries, but will not walk around the main library. There was no public hearing or comment prior to closing the branch libraries. We were told it was due to the May 20th vote of the over-ride failure. However, the date a few weeks earlier speaks volumes. Those of us in the Newton community, believe strongly that libraries are essential services to our community, and access should be to everyone. If anyone has any suggestions on how we an reopen our libraries before they go into Reuse Committee where they will be lost forever, please let me know. Thank you!