Week 14: Activity 27.3
Schmetzke, A. (2007) Leadership at the American Library Association and Accessibility: a Critical View
"no one, people with disabilities included, should find himself or herself in a position where they have to fight battles"
So true, and when you have a tutorial to prepare for that requires 5 hours work and you have to book an academic support worker to help you access the material, your support worker is employed 9-5 Monday to Friday; you have to explain what you want to them before you start and then it takes about 3X as long to do the work because you have to direct their reading. Let's forget fighting to get your software to work on the computer and access the online databases you need. Where does all this time come from? Let alone the time needed to fight the battles.
Yesterday I was working with a blind student. I asked if she wanted to check her emails and she replied that she knew that she needed to but we only had two hours left and it would take that long to take notes from the chapter she needed for her assignment - the book was not available electronically so she could not access it herself.
Kerscher, G. (2007) The Essential Role of Libraries Serving Persons Who Are Blind and Print Disabled in the Information Age
Accessibility in the context of Staffordshire University's Law Library
The library is easily accessible for manual and electronic wheelchairs and there are two desks which have an adjustable height and the possibility for two people to work together. Due to this, the computers are popular with other students but they have notices to indicate that priority is to be given to disabled students.
The library has five computers with some speech and magnification programs and two with a large screen to assist those magnifying the text. It can be noisy at times and difficult to work together. It can also be a problem reading to a student as other people are working quietly.
The library had a good selection of law books and journals in paper format which student with visual impairment cannot access without academic support. Last year a specialist member of the library staff was responsible for obtaining key textbooks in an accessible format. Unfortunately this member of staff has changed jobs and individual lecturers were asked to ensure that material was available. This did not work and so a single tutor is trying to obtain the text books. This is difficult as he is teaching and not in his office to constantly chase one publisher that is being very resistant.
The two databases that are required to research law are Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis. Westlaw is difficult to use but achievable using a screen reader. Lexis-Nexis is inaccessible as it is written in frames. This restricts the ability of visually impaired students to research independently.
The online journal access can prove problematical as the up-to-date copies are not available online. I am uncertain whether this is due to publishers' policy or due to a cheaper licence being purchased.
The library supplies no scanning and OCR service and individual students need to pay for this to be done by their academic support service using their disabled students' allowance.
Printing and photocopying services are paid for using the student's account which can be topped up online or by using cash at machines in the library. However, this machine is placed too high to be used by a user in a wheelchair and has a touch screen function with no speech function. The printers also have a touch screen with no speech function and are therefore inaccessible for users with a severe visual impairment. Many students print out information for their support workers as it is difficult to provide support when the student has the only copy of the information on the screen and it is magnified so the support worker cannot read it.