Public Libraries and Access for Children with Disabilities and Their Families: A Proposed Inclusive Library Model

Creator: Joanne Kaeding, Diane L. Velasquez, and Deborah Price

Date Updated: October 21, 2021

This paper reports on an investigation of factors influencing access to public libraries for children with disabilities and their families from the perspective of the public librarian. This could be a valuable reference for any library or children’s department looking to form its accessibility policy or guidelines.

Quick Facts

  • Libraries, in general, have made a concentrated effort to be accessible for patrons with disabilities. This is shown in the incorporation of accessible formats like audiobooks and large print books and the physical accessibility of the library like wheelchair-accessible entrances. However, there is always room for improvement!
  • The literature and research collected by this article determined that there are still barriers in libraries for children with disabilities and their families. To create an inclusive library experience for children with disabilities, libraries need to focus on the following:
    • Ensure that library management and senior librarians support the creation of an inclusive library. The report highlights this as a vital factor in creating an accessible library because they control how library staff are trained and funds are allocated.
    • Develop and implement inclusive library staff training.
    • Create partnerships with external organizations that help libraries to become more accessible.
    • Market the inclusive library services and collections so that children with print disabilities and their families are aware of the accessibility features they provide.
    • Make sure that your collection is inclusive and let patrons know about the accessible materials your library does have.
    • Create a physically and digitally accessible space for children with disabilities and their families (the report groups both of these items under the term “physical barriers”). Physical barriers include the spaces, equipment, and library website.
    • Make library programming accessible for all children with disabilities.

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References

Kaeding, Joanne, Velasquez, Diane L. & Price, Deborah (2017). Public Libraries and Access for Children with Disabilities and Their Families: A Proposed Inclusive Library Model. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association. 66:2. 96-115. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1080/24750158.2017.1298399