This post outlines a series of my explorations into the Americans with Disabilities Act and related topics, particularly as they relate to education.
What is the ADA? Title II? Section 504?
Source cited in video: The PEER Project
Reasonable vs. Unreasonable Accommodations
I like the succinct, clear way that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette summarizes reasonable and unreasonable accommodations.
Reasonable accommodations might include additional time for test-taking, alternate formats for texts, note-taking services, sign language interpreters, or reduced course. In academic libraries, a reasonable accommodation might be obtaining desired books in an alternative format for the student. An unreasonable accommodation would be to purchase all library books in ebook format to maximize accessibility. This is not possible financially, creates other access issues (particularly related to inter-library loan), and changes the fundamental nature of the library as a place with a variety of resources and formats. Not to mention that not all books are available as ebooks!
What’s the IDEA?
This brief video gives a concise, easy to understand overview of IDEA and what it means for schools and parents. Sorry, there isn’t any interpretive dance.
IDEA supplements the ADA in protecting children’s rights while also giving parents say in their children’s education. It also requires K-12 schools to test students who might have a disability and provide special education services to students who need it to be successful academically.
What does this mean for academic libraries?
College and university libraries must provide accessible facilities (including placement of furniture and provision of some height adjustable tables) and websites. They should work closely with their campus disability services office to ensure accessibility and to work through any ADA-related requests or complaints. When budgets allow, libraries should provide access to assistive technology (like text magnifying machines and designated computers with special software like a screen reader and voice-to-text). Staff should receive training on the ADA, relevant library policies, and strategies for providing services to patrons with disabilities. Libraries will occasionally need to obtain materials in an alternative format when requested.
Resources for Libraries
Campus disability services office (here is the one at University of Alaska Anchorage)
American Library Association ADA Toolkit (excerpts)
Access to Libraries for Persons with Disabilities – Checklist (public library focus so not all relevant)
WCAG (for ensuring web site accessibility)