ASSOCIATES (2010, November, v. 17, no. 2)

Feature

Access to Library Services: Breaking Barriers That May Exist for Patrons with Disabilities, Part II

Yolyndra Green
Library Services
Central Piedmont Community College
Charlotte, NC.
Yolyndra.Green@cpcc.edu

The existence of library patrons with disabilities is evident and prevalent. This can also waver depending on the type and location of the library. In order to provide equal access to library services to library patrons with disabilities, library staff should be comfortable not only with any technologies that may be needed but also comfortable in providing successful customer services to their patrons with disabilities.

For library staff, the ease in providing customer service to patrons does not always come easily – whether they are servicing patrons with or without a disability. Providing efficient and effective customer service to patrons with a disability can be difficult and pose a challenge.

After presenting two Disability Overview training sessions with library staff, it was found that library staff are aware of their patron population with disabilities. The worries that came from these training sessions dealt with the interactions between staff and patrons, e.g. should I approach the patron first? Do I wait until they come to me? Additional concerns dealt with (for libraries with assistive technology) – regular training on the equipment; requesting company vendors to come in and provide more information on equipment; determining what resources would be more beneficial to the patron.

Acquiring accessible technology for library patrons with disabilities is one area that was of interest to attendees. There is an array of hardware and/or software that can be extremely useful for patrons with disabilities. However, because of the constraints with today’s budgets, finding funds to purchase these resources doesn’t offer much more than a glimmer of hope. The cost associated with purchasing assistive technology is expensive; consequently, less expensive options can be considered. For instance, handheld magnifiers (visual impairments); optical trackball mice (mobility impairments); MS Accessibility features (hearing, visual & learning impairments) – are examples of inexpensive options.

Depending on the type of library, academic or public, the need for library staff assessment on the equipment/technology that assists their patrons with disabilities is warranted. As stated above, staying abreast on the needs and usage of the equipment/technology is important in order to provide and maintain efficient customer service.

Library staff actively seeking out advances in library resources should also be considered as we provide service to our patrons with disabilities. Improving customer service relations for library patrons should include both patrons with and without disabilities.

References:

Vernon, R. (2010). Inexpensive accessibility option for you library. Feliciter, 56(3).

Green, Y. (2010). Access to library services: breaking barriers that may exist for patrons with disabilities, Part I. Associates, 16(3).

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