Access to libraries for persons with disabilities - CHECKLIST

by Birgitta Irvall and Gyda Skat Nielsen

Series: IFLA Professional Reports 89

Access for all to every library

In many countries all over the world, access for patrons with disabilities to use libraries is not yet available or even expected. In order to provide equal opportunities for all library users, it is necessary to look with the eyes of these patron groups at the physical condition of library buildings, as well as library services and programs.

This checklist – developed by the IFLA Standing Committee of Libraries Serving Disadvantaged Persons (LSDP) – is designed as a practical tool for all types of libraries (public, academic, school, special) to 1) assess existing levels of accessibility to buildings, services, materials and programs and to 2) enhance accessibility where needed. Accessibility needs of library staff are beyond the scope of this document.

To make a library accessible you need economic resources. Many improvements, however, can be implemented with very small amounts of money – or possibly without any costs. The solution can often be found through a change of staff attitude and thinking in new ways.

We recommend that representatives from disability groups and support organizations be included in the evaluation process. Input from these individuals, along with the checklist findings, will provide much useful information for immediate enhancement measures, as well as future planning.

Because libraries and buildings are very different around the world, this checklist does not include quantitative measurements. We recommend that library staff apply the pertinent laws and regulations in each country or test with your disadvantaged customers.

Change often occurs slowly – but the main thing is to focus on the most important issue now: Making equality of access for all persons regardless of disability the guiding principle, whether evaluating existing buildings and services or planning new ones.

Remember that it is your responsibility to make persons with disabilities feel welcome in the library.

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Reports, Library Services to People with Special Needs

Last update: 12 January 2017