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Accessibility Considerations and Library Software

Software designed primarily for use by libraries may or may not be accessible or compatible with assistive technologies. This article covers three types of library software:

  • Information resources that provide information or point to information, such as databases
  • Administrative software that interfaces between users and applications and controls computer usage
  • Security systems that prevent malicious usage of software and reset system/programs to their defaults

Potential Accessibility Issues

Accessibility problems with library software usually occur for one of three reasons:

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Developing Alternative/Augmentative Communication Layouts

Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) require customization so that the device is appropriate to each user's capabilities and needs. This article covers the steps to take so that there is a good fit between the strategy and the user.

Establish what the user wants to communicate

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Accessible Technologies for People With Hearing Loss

People who are deaf or hard of hearing need access to audible information.  This may be:

  • part of a computer interface (such as alerting tones)
  • a movie sound track
  • a voice conversation on the phone

This article covers some of the accessibility solutions for both groups of users.

Computers

Computers usually have error and alerting tones, and both Windows and Macintosh have a setting that flashes the screen whenever the sound is played.

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Free Computer AT Already in Macintosh Computers

The Macintosh OS X operating system built-in accessibility features to make the monitor, keyboard, or mouse easier to use for many people. This article provides information on these features, including how to turn them on and use them. Some of these features are also available in earlier Macintosh systems; please contact us if you would like more information. Another good resource on Macintosh accessibility is the AT Mac blog.

Mouse Assistance/Alternatives

MouseKeys

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Free Computer AT Already in Windows Computers

The Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 operating systems all include a wide range of built-in accessibility features. These can be activated to make the monitor, keyboard, or mouse easier to use for many people. This article provides information on these features, including how to turn them on and use them in all three versions of Windows. Most of these features are also available in earlier Windows systems.

Mouse Assistance/Alternatives

MouseKeys

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New App for DAISY Audio Books

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) has released an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that allows users to download and read their more than 60,000 DAISY Consortium.

">DAISY books in audio. You must be an RFB&D member to use the service, and the app costs $19.99.

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Touch-Free Devices for Indoor Use

Fixtures and devices that are responsive to motion rather than physical contact are becoming increasingly popular. These benefit not only people with dexterity disabilities, but also people with a fear of germs and people temporarily unable to use their hands because of injury or because they are holding books, groceries, or a baby. Many products are available in touch-free models; in some cases, modifications are available for existing products. Installation of these products is often a good strategy for complying with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.

Toilets

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Assistive Technology and Elders

When considering assistive computer technology for elders, three issues need to be addressed: how will they need to be accommodated, what technology exists to provide accommodations, and how can these technologies be presented so elders will use them.

How Do Elders Need To Be Accommodated?

For elders, disability exists on a continuum of severity. Some disabilities are a natural part of aging and are generally mild.  Other disabilities rise in incidence with age, and may be mild to severe. Finally, more people with mild to severe long-term disabilities are living well beyond retirement age.

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Accessibility Considerations for Library Software

What Are the Problems?

Using a library now means using software: online resources, Internet workstations, and the library's own website and catalogue create a software-based experience for patrons and staff. Users may have trouble:

  • Seeing content on the monitor
  • Using the keyboard or mouse
  • Understanding complicated directions
  • Any of the other typical computer software barriers

These barriers may appear anywhere in your software environment:

  • Information resources, which provide information or point to information--e.g., journal articles or bibliographic databases.
  • Administrative software, which provides an interface between users and applications, and control computer usage from signin through providing alerts when a user's time is up.
  • Security systems, which are intended to prevent malicious use of software and reset the system and programs to their defaults between users. These may also be used by other types of public computer labs.

There are easy, inexpensive solutions for almost all of these problems.

Legal Obligations

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which covers public and private libraries and many other institutions, states that “No individual shall be discriminated against…in the full and equal enjoyment of …services…." Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which covers some libraries, also requires accessible information technology.

Getting Started

The software used in your library should be as accessible as possible, and you can help move it in that direction without becoming an accessibility guru.  This article will go over some steps you can take:

  • Getting Close to Your Users
  • Your IT Staff
  • When You're in the Market
  • If You've Got Technical Resources

Getting Close to Your Users

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Broadband Access and How It Is Redefining Quality of Life Issues for People with Disabilities

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time

This webinar will present a general introduction and overview of Broadband—both as a public policy agenda and as a quality of life issue for people with disabilities. The training will review the unique ways in which Broadband is redefining health care, education, employment, citizenship, and community participation for people with disabilities.

Description: This webinar will present a general introduction and overview of Broadband—both as a public policy agenda and as a quality of life issue for people with disabilities. The training will review the unique ways in which Broadband is redefining health care, education, employment, citizenship, and community participation for people with disabilities.

Login or sign up for a free membership to register for this training.

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