National Federation of the Blind and US Department of Education Remind Libraries That Digital Information Must be Accessible to People with Print Disabilities

Digital information represents an opportunity for blind people and others who cannot read print to have equal access to the vast amount of information available through the nation’s libraries. Equal access is possible, but it does not happen automatically. The ALA adopted a resolution encouraging libraries to make sure their digital technology is accessible. The Department of Education has recently emphasized, in guidance to educational institutions, that digital information and technology is required to be accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The guidance specifically mentions the obligations of school libraries.  In an open letter to public and private libraries, the National Federation of the Blind is reminding libraries to ensure that e-books, databases, self-service kiosks, and other digital services are accessible to all patrons and offering assistance in achieving accessibility. Read the NFB letter (doc) on this important topic and review the guidance from the Department of Education on the legal obligations to provide accessible digital content and technology.

About Carrie Russell

Carrie Russell is the Director of the Program on Public Access to Information in the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). Her portfolio includes copyright, international copyright, accessibility, e-books and other public policy issues. She has a MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA in media arts from the University of Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at crussell@alawash.org.

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