Saturday, May 22, 2010

Inclusive Libraries: Making Libraries Disabled Friendly

Inclusive Libraries: Making Libraries Disabled Friendly - by Ms.Shilpi Kapoor, Founder - Barrier Break Technologies This workshop was held at Health Education Library for People on 22nd May, 2010.

The workshop was attended by librarians from Mumbai. Some of the eminent librarians who attended included Mrs.Kolekar, Chief Medical Librarian, Mr.Dusankar from Wizdoms Libraries and Librarians from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Librarian from Wilson College.

Highlights of the Workshop:

People with disabilities prefer that you focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. Shilpi gave us tips on interacting with persons with disabilities: treat people with disabilities with the same respect and consideration that you have for everyone else; use a normal voice when extending a verbal welcome; do not leave persons with disabilities out of a conversation or activity because you feel uncomfortable or fear that they will feel uncomfortable; do not automatically give assistance; be sensitive about the setting.

Persons with disabilities should also have access to both that is physical libraries as well as digital libraries. By making libraries accessible and inclusive, we will not only address the needs of the low vision to blind people, people faced with hearing challenges and physical challenges, but can also address the needs of people with cognitive disabilities and also the elderly.

Making a library accessible is a three-pronged approach:
1. Access to Resources of the Library
2. Physical Access to the Library
3. Service and Communication.

Some basic components that may require consideration are:
Parking and Accessible Pathway
Internal Circulation
Accessible Furniture
Circulation and Information Desks
Emergency Evacuation

Alternate Formats:
i. Braille
ii.Large print
iii. Digital Talking book - available in 3 formats i) Audio with NCX ii) Audio and full text iii) Text and no audio.
To convert a book to DTBook, we can use open source tools like Save as Daisy by Microsoft; Daisy pipline, and obi by DAISY Consortium and Easy Reader from Dolphin are most popular software players.

With the Right to Education Bill in India clearly mentioning persons with disabilities, why shouldn't our libraries be starting points to help our disabled people reach their goals.

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