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Guidelines on Library and Information Services for People with Disabilities

    Creator: Canadian Federation of Library Associations

    Date Updated: October 21, 2022


    This is a set of accessibility guidelines from 2016 written by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA), in consultation with experts, for all Canadian libraries. This document is a good general outline of recommended accessible and inclusive service practices. This document, along with other more recent guidelines such as Bill C-81 and the AODA, could serve as a helpful starting point for any Canadian library hoping to create its accessibility policy.

    This information is summarized from Guidelines on Library and Information Services for People with Disabilities.

    Quick Facts

    • The guidelines outlined in this document are separated into ten areas of focus. They are:
    • Library Mandate, Policy, and Planning
      • Include access for persons with disabilities in your institutional mandate.
      • Familiarize yourself with federal and provincial/territorial regulations and legislation.
      • Your library’s strategic plan should consider accessibility in all areas of your library (physical space, library programs, collections, etc.).
    • Public Services
      • Libraries should provide or make it a priority to deliver accessible services (content, website, assistive technologies, etc.).
      • When an accessible format is not available, libraries should facilitate access to one (under the Canadian Copyright Act).
      • All library staff should be familiar with the Canadian Copyright Act and how it impacts persons with print disabilities.
    • Communications, Marketing, and Outreach
      • Use person-first languages and consult people with disabilities on the terminology they prefer.
      • Use multiple methods to advertise your library and services.
      • Include captions and transcripts for audio information.
    • Budgeting and Procurement
      • Budget for making your library space accessible and providing assistive technology.
      • Purchase alternate /accessible formats (and include that in your budget).
      • Prioritize procurement from vendors who provide accessible services.
    • Human Resources and Training
      • Commit to ongoing library training of staff that covers disability awareness and sensitivity interactions.
      • Include equitable services and access for persons with print disabilities in your training policies and procedures.
      • Employ persons with disabilities!
    • Collections Management
      • Your collection development policy should include accessible/alternate formats.
      • Consider the patron’s input about content during acquisitions.
    • Resource Sharing
      • Libraries should participate in multiple networks to ensure accessible formats are available through interlibrary loans and online services (like NNELS and CELA).
    • Assistive Devices and Technologies
      • Your library should be completely compatible with assistive technologies.
      • Provide workstations equipped with furniture and technology to meet the needs of persons with disabilities (adjustable desk, screen readers, large monitors, etc.)
      • Ensure that library staff are aware of and familiar with the assistive technologies and devices their library offers.
    • Physical Access
      • Your library should be accessible and include (if applicable): accessible entrances, quiet rooms, adjustable lighting, accessible signage (tactile options, contrasting colours, etc.) and much more.
      • Consult with persons with disabilities before building or renovating your library.
    • Advocacy
      • Advocate for libraries and library schools to incorporate accessibility into teaching and training.
      • Work with publishers to advocate for accessible content.

    Visit CFLA Guidelines on Library and Information Services for People with Disabilities


    Canadian Federation of Library Associations (January 2016). Guidelines on Library and Information Services for People with Disabilities. Web page. Retrieved from: