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Quick Reference: Accessibility 101 For Public Libraries

    Creator: Accessible Libraries

    Date Updated: January 19, 2022


    Hello and welcome! To get you started on your accessibility journey, we’ve summarized information from the Accessibility 101 webinar. The fact and links below will help you establish foundational knowledge that you can build on.

    Quick Facts

    There are many different types of disabilities that present in numerous visible and invisible ways. Accessibility is about flexibility.

    Practice respectful language and interactions with people with disabilities — Ask people what their preferences are when planning programming, presentations, in the job, etc. While some accommodations can be complex, many are not. Genuinely asking goes a very long way!

    Welcome people with disabilities to your library. When helping people, always ask, never assume, and admit that you don’t know all the answers, but you’ll try your best to find them.

    The Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) has guidelines on Library and Information Services for People with Disabilities, including physical spaces that encourage library staff to be familiar with the Principles of Inclusive Design which can be applied to physical and digital spaces.


    Assistive technology refers to the equipment and systems that enable or enhance reading, learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities. Learn about assistive technology and support its use in your library by both staff and patrons.

    Digital content created to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in combination with usability testing performed by qualified individuals with lived experience will produce the best digital experiences for all users. Avoid using or supporting the use of “shortcuts” like accessibility overlays and toolbars as accessibility solutions. Your library can use automated website accessibility checkers such as Lighthouse and Axe to help catch some significant barriers.

    Advocate for the procurement of digital content and digital content platforms (like Overdrive) created with accessibility in mind from the beginning, is WCAG compliant and has been tested by qualified individuals with lived experience.

    Accessible Documents and Communications

    Learn how to make your documents accessible. Microsoft Office products have a built-in accessibility checker with some great tips, including basic document accessibility tips that can be applied to any platform.

    Become familiar with the various alternate format types (audio, large print, braille, etext/EPUB), where to acquire them, and make efforts to promote them as part of your library collection.

    Try creating and sharing social media posts that are accessible. Some tools can help you along the way, such as a visual alt text browser extension and audio description services.

    Finally, to better serve your library and fulfill project grant requirements, we’re asking for your feedback