​​A new United Nations report underlines the need for action to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities and possibilities as others. It also highlights good practices, including those adopted by libraries.

Photo from the Launch of the UN Report on Disability and Development

The United Nations 2030 Agenda underlines that no-one should be left behind, but this is all too often the case for people with disabilities.

Action, not only by Member States, but also by all stakeholders, including libraries, is therefore necessary if we are to succeed.

This is as much the case for access to information as for anything else. This access can be an important enabler, opening up new economic, social and cultural possibilities, and helping people take better decisions.

At the same time, a lack of access can mean exclusion, and a greater risk of poverty and other problems. Libraries have a mission to support everyone in their communities, and many have a specific duty to users with disabilities.

IFLA has engaged over the past years with the UN on its work on disability-inclusive development, carrying out a survey of libraries around the world. This looked at physical accessibility, provision of accessible resources, and programming aimed to provide specific support.

This work has now fed into the Flagship UN Report on Disability and Development, which cites IFLA statistics, as well as pointing to best practices in libraries in terms of defining policies, ensuring accessibility, and providing materials.  

Nancy Bolt, member of IFLA’s Section on Libraries Serving People with Special Needs, attended the launch in New York, welcoming the inclusion of libraries in the report, and encouraging further engagement with our institutions.

Such efforts of course rely on recognition by, and support from, governments, in order to ensure that libraries are able to deliver. Laws – such as implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty in ways that create no unnecessary barriers to access to information – also make a major contribution.

Find out more about the work of IFLA’s Section on Libraries Serving Persons with Special Needs, and about IFLA’s broader work on libraries and the Sustainable Development Goals.