Sunday, May 29, 2022 – From the National Network for Equitable Library Service
Today launches National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) across Canada from May 29 to June 4, 2022. This year the theme for National AccessAbility Week is “Inclusive from the start”. As stated on Canada.ca: “Imagine a Canada where no one is left out. A Canada that does not just accommodate disability, but one that is disability-inclusive from the start. That is the Canada we are creating – for everyone.”
NNELS is dedicated to working towards an equitable future in accessibility for both libraries and publishing. We work hard to help increase accessibility and inclusion in Canada to ensure readers with print disabilities can have access to the same content as all other readers, at the same time. NNELS is built on principles of openness, inclusion, and choice.
Our work aims to eliminate the barrier of limited collections for people with print disabilities; the content in the NNELS repository is not a traditionally-curated collection, it is user-driven! Library users can request the titles they want to read!
NNELS’ work is also informed by the accessibility by design principle, which requires that when you create something inclusive for people with disabilities it must be accessible. Accessibility is thus the baseline!
NNELS is an advocate for accessible publishing and equitable reading. This is important because we’re talking about access to information, and information is essential for full participation in society. We work hard to not only create accessible documents and resources but also awareness. Our hiring practices ensure active and essential roles for people living with disabilities.
NNELS puts users at the centre of everything we do and builds capacity by employing people with lived experience of print disability. The expertise of people with print disabilities is key to creating awareness around accessibility, identifying and eliminating barriers, and empowering publishers and others to create content that works for everyone, regardless of ability. Everything we do is publicly available to help librarians better serve their patrons. We strive to demystify accessibility and make it more relatable. Including people with print disabilities in NNELS staffing ensures the service reflects the needs, values and input of the community NNELS was created to service. In this way, NNELS is not only responsive but, more importantly, responsible and accountable to the public it serves.
Our work is important because access to information is essential! NNELS is working to provide accessible information and empower others to produce it from the start! Part of the solution to the lack of accessibility is a cultural change across Canada and the rest of the world. Instead of an optional feature, we need to start thinking of accessibility as the baseline. It’s all about thinking beyond the “typical” user and embracing new ideas to produce a seamless experience for all users. Accessibility is about flexibility. Inclusion means accepting diversity!
This is an exciting time for accessibility. Taking steps to build accessibility features into digital content and library services, it means that those products and that services will be better for everyone, regardless of ability. By thinking about accessibility from the start, you create more inclusive products and spaces, and this fosters a culture of further inclusion.
Accessibility is a collective responsibility, and not only that of specialized organizations. We must recognize that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility and that everyone has a role to play. It is also easier to foster and build accessibility when it is a collective effort.
Today launches National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) across Canada from May 29 to June 4, 2022. This year the theme for National AccessAbility Week is “Inclusive from the start”.