Eileen welcomed Jean Madden as the new Disabilities Coordinator for Robeson Library. Jean will be replacing Libby Hart, who recently retired.
Joe attended the National Diversity in Libraries Conference and shared information with the committee. He attended two sessions that pertained to patrons and employees with disabilities. The first session was titled, "What's Wrong with You?" which talked about hidden disabilities among patrons, faculty, and staff. Topics discussed included, how to perceive when someone may have a hidden disability, providing a universal design for all users such as ergonomic furniture, larger computer screens, etc., and being aware of chemical allergies to such things as latex. The second session was titled, "Creating Accommodating Resources with Technologies in Hand." With the ubiquitous budget problems within the libraries, how can we use existing technology to help people with disabilities? Disabled users do not want to self-identify as disabled, they do not want to work in intimidating spaces, and visually impaired users would love the computer icons to be bigger. Joe shared with the group that Microsoft has an Accessibility package (Start menu, All Programs, Accessories, Accessibility) that is standard with Windows XP. There are similar accessibility solutions standard in Windows 7 and Mac OS X. The package includes a Magnifier, Narrator, On-Screen Keyboard, and Accessibility Wizard. Joe suggested providing a desktop shortcut on all of our Public PC's if there are no bugs or problems with permissions. Anne will test it for bugs but she cannot guarantee that it will get installed. Joe also pointed out that Microsoft offers a how to website on how to use the Accessibility package, http://www.microsoft.com/enable. Other ways of helping our users include using an ergonomic touch pad instead of a mouse and having some keyboards with big one inch keys.
Eileen presented the committee with copies of the "Services for Persons with Disabilities" brochure for review and a call for suggestions on any needed updates. Several suggestions were discussed and Eileen will incorporate the suggestions, create a new draft, discuss with Harry Glazer for final editing and re-printing of the print brochures and Sam McDonald on updating the information on our webpage.
The committee agreed to request an upgrade to JAWS screen reading software because we are several versions behind. Joe mentioned that the Kurzweil scanner at Alexander Library is not working. Anne has been working on fixing the problem but all of the parts have not been obtainable. As for our training needs, the committee will work towards hosting a disability training event in conjunction with the Office of Disabilities Services and local county disability centers.
The committee will meet in October.