Public libraries are adopting six steps in a UK-wide effort to improve access for blind and partially sighted people. For the two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK this will be a lifeline to the leisure, learning and information resources offered by public libraries.
Libraries that have adopted the six steps are providing collections of large print and audio books, making sure accessible technology is available, and have a library champion for the reading needs of blind and partially sighted people.
Six Steps to Library Services for Blind and Partially Sighted Peopleis a joint initiative by the Society of Chief Librarians, Scottish Library & Information Council and Share the Vision.
Mark Freeman, Acting Chair of Share the Vision, said: “Public libraries are obliged to provide services to everyone. Many libraries are already doing an excellent job but standards of provision for blind and partially sighted people vary from place to place. The six steps make it clear what libraries can do to improve access.”
These steps are already making a huge difference to library users.
“I am so glad that Inverurie Library organised this event. I had given up trying to read books with my younger son and missed this time with him dearly but I can once again enjoy doing this. I also now receive the local paper in audio format, am a member of the local book club, have a better idea of the titles available and how to order audio books and lastly the confidence to ask for help if I need it.” Heather Watson, library customer, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire.
Already, 176 out of 210 library authorities have pledged.* “We call on every library in the UK to sign up,” said President of SCL, Nicky Parker. “We are determined to break down the barriers that prevent blind and partially sighted people from using the public library like everyone else.”
Scottish Library & Information Council Director, Elaine Fulton, said: “All of Scotland’s public libraries have already pledged their support for this very welcome initiative.”
Six Steps to Library Services for Blind and Partially Sighted People
1. Use Your Reading Choices with blind and partially sighted customers to assess their reading needs and facilitate access to public libraries and other relevant services (http://tinyurl.com/rnib2)
2. Use Reading Sight (www.readingsight.org.uk), the free website for library staff supporting blind and partially sighted people to access reading and reading services
3. Provide local collections of large print and audio books
4. Have a strategy in place for provision of access technology throughout your library service
5. Designate a “champion” for the reading needs of blind and partially sighted people
6. Participate in Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight (www.rnib.org.uk/manil) run annually by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
* For the full list of library authorities signed up to Six Steps see www.goscl.com
(Press release provided by Society of Chief Librarians)