"Build it and they will come!"
This quotation by the hero in the movie, "Field of Dreams" is not only a
fantasy about baseball, but it is equally a fantasy when applied to
computer provision. Two important things are needed to make such
provisions successful. first, there needs to be an on-going public
awareness campaign so that potential users will know about the
facilities. Second, the staff need to be trained and training also
needs to be provided for the potential users when needed.
First Ohiolink needs to have some way of advertising that its online
databases have been made as accessible as possible. A sentence to this
effect needs to be in its public announcements. there also needs to be
some prominent link on one or more of its pages pointing to a special
help file for users with disabilities where its services for disabled
patrons can be explained.
Second, each individual library needs to plan an awareness campaign
about its on-site services and their accessibility. This campaign needs
to be on-going. The patron base for college libraries is constantly
turning over, and this requires a continuing education program about the
library services including those for patrons with disabilities. This
should include working with the office for disabled students, the ADA
compliance office and the admissions office.
The library's technical support staff responsible for maintaining
software will need some understanding of the software and especially of
potential bugs and workarounds. If not, they will need to know where
they can readily get such information when it is required.
The library will need to have several staff persons acquainted with the
most essential features of the adaptive systems. It would be
unrealistic to expect them to be experts, but there should be someone on
the floor at all times or someone readily available who could help a
disabled patron get started with the system. As that need may be
infrequent, these specified staff should have ready access to a quick
reference sheet with the most important items on it.
Ohiolink or some similar cooperative entity should provide periodic
training on installing the adaptive systems and on the basics of how
they function. This will be particularly important at the initiation of
this program. Training should cover the legal obligations of librarians
and tips on how to work with patrons with disabilities in ways that
reduces any possible discomfort by either staff or patron. On-going
training could be provided by an online training workshop repeated
annually or by quality interactive computer-based training systems. One
of the most useful follow-ups to such training would be for these
designated librarians to belong to an online listserv discussion list
where they could support each other and share solutions to both
technical and patron problems. One or all might also want to belong to
an internet list with a focus on libraries and disability access. One
such list is axslib-l sponsored by EASI (Equal Access to Software and
Information). To join, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
with one line of text saying:
sub axslib-l (and your name)
The Office of Civil Rights (see appendix c) states that students with
disabilities must be given appropriate training both on the mainstream
computer software and on the special adaptive software. The library may
want to work out arrangements with the DSS office about who provides the
adaptive technology training. The library will still need to be ready
to train patrons with disabilities on its software similarly to any
training it provides to other patrons.
The library will provide all its communications and publications in some
alternative formats. This includes documentation about the computers
and their software. Having brief, clear documents to help disabled
patrons use the adaptive systems in an alternative format could reduce
the amount of help required from library staff. This should be
something other than the software manual in alternative format as that
is usually to complicated to be helpful for anyone besides a computer
The remainder of this appendix is a copy of a pamphlet produced by EASI.
It can be copied and distributed or used as the basis for writing a
pamphlet to meet more specific local conditions.
(C 1994 EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information ) (This
material may be freely copied and distributed so long as it is duplicated in whole and carry this notice.)
EASI, c/o American Association for Higher Education One Dupont
Circle, Suite 360 Washington, D.C. 20036-1110 Phone: (310) 640-3193
(Pacific Time) E-Mail: EASI@EDUCOM.BITNET or internet:
SERVICE AND CONSIDERATION
AN EASI GUIDE TO DISABILITY ETIQUETTE FOR COMPUTING SERVICE
EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information
Your attitude can make a big difference. One of the most difficult
barriers people with disabilities face is negative attitudes and
perceptions of other people. Sometimes those attitudes are deep-rooted
prejudices, based in ignorance and fear. Sometimes they are just
unconscious misconceptions that result in impolite or thoughtless acts
by otherwise well-meaning people. In either case, they form an
obstacle to acceptance and full participation in society for people
This pamphlet is not a list of strict rules and regulations. It's an
attempt to foster understanding, clear up misperceptions and help you
relate as a service provider, and as a person, to people with
Disability is often perceived as a yes-or-no proposition. You either
are disabled or you're not. The truth is that disability is a
continuum. At one end are perfect people --not many of those around--
and at the other end are people with severe impairments. Most of us
fall somewhere in the middle. But, we're all people and we all want to
be treated with respect.
With that in mind, here are some general tips on relating to people
who may have special needs. Inside this pamphlet, you'll find more
specific tips for working with somebody who has a specific disability.
DON'T ASSUME a person with a disability needs your help. Ask before
MAKE EYE contact and talk directly to the person, not through the
AVOID ACTIONS and words that suggest the person should be treated
differently. It's OK to invite a person in a wheelchair to go for a
walk or to ask a blind person if he sees what you mean.
TREAT PEOPLE with disabilities with the same respect and consideration that you have for everyone else.
PAGE 2 AND 3
SOME HELPFUL HINTS
BE DESCRIPTIVE. You may have to help orient people with visual
impairments, and let them know what's coming up. If they are walking
tell them if they have to step up or step down, let them know if the
door is to their right or left, and warn them of possible hazards.
YOU DON'T have to talk loudly to people with visual impairments. Most
of them hear just fine.
OFFER TO READ written information for a person with a visual
impairment when appropriate.
IF YOU are asked to guide a person with a visual impairment, offer him
your arm, instead of grabbing his.
LISTEN PATIENTLY. Don't complete sentences for the person unless he
looks to you for help.
DON'T PRETEND you understand what the person with a speech disability
says just to be polite.
ASK THE PERSON to write a word if you're not sure of what he is
FACE PEOPLE with hearing impairments when you talk to them so they
can see your lips.
SLOW the rate at which you speak when talking to a person with a
INCREASE THE LEVEL of your voice.
COMMUNICATE BY WRITING if necessary.
TRY SITTING or crouching down to the approximate height of people in
wheelchairs or scooters when you talk to them.
DON'T LEAN on a person's wheelchair unless you have his permission
--it's his personal space.
BE AWARE of what is accessible and not accessible to people in
GIVE A PUSH only when asked.
DON'T ASSUME the person is not listening just because you are
getting no verbal or visual feedback. Ask him if he understands or
DON'T ASSUME you have to explain everything to people with learning
disabilities. They do not necessarily have a problem with general
OFFER TO READ written material, if necessary.
NOTE ON GUIDE DOGS
Many people with visual or mobility impairments use guide dogs to
help them compensate for their disabilities. These dogs are workers,
not pets, and they have jobs to do. Always ask permission before you
interact with someone's dog. Do not pet the dog or divert its
attention from its work.
INFORMATION: Basic information should be made available in large
print and Braille, and should be put on the campus network. The
information needs to include location of labs, libraries,
administrative offices, and other facilities that are available to
all students. Information on restrictions of use, printing policies,
usage fees, hardware and software availability, lab assistant and
tutor availability and general policies, should also be available in
ORIENTATION: A guided tour of all facilities is a good way to
familiarize people with disabilities to the campus layout. The tour
should include location of specific buildings, libraries,
administrative offices and other student-use areas. The orientation
should identify potential obstacles and emergency exits.
ASSISTANCE: Lab and teaching assistants should be prepared to help a
person with a disability in a number of different ways, according to
the type and severity of the disability. Typical tasks will include:
changing the height of a workstation, turning equipment on and off,
positioning equipment, setting contrast and brightness controls,
inserting disks into disk drives, setting up a printer, retrieving a
print-out, reading or writing down information, and many other small
tasks that can be a big help to a person with a disability.
Appendix D: Staff Training and Training Materials
"Build it and they will come!"