Inclusive libraries

Libraries are at the heart of independent learning and an inclusive library often leads the way in using technology to give disabled students genuine independence and autonomy.

Books on bookshelfJisc has a proud history of work with library services ; the former Jisc TechDis service set up the publisher lookup service, led several research projects in e-book accessibility and contributed annually to the London Bookfair’s accessibility seminars. Publisher Lookup – for finding publisher contact details for alternative format enquiries – has been replaced by the excellent searchBox service.

The current changes to Disabled Student Allowances makes the case for inclusive libraries even more pressing. This blog will give updates on good practices we see developing and will point you to our developing guidance. Jisc runs an online training session to help libraries make the most of ebook accessibility – contact the Jisc training team for more information.

Top level guidance

Explore our guidance for library staff, find out how to maximise resources for disabled learners, minimise barriers and see what an accessible library might look like. See also the excellent crowd-sourced Ebook Accessibility audit (2016) or the more recent follow-up Aspire project (2018) and check how well your ebook platforms performed.

Alternative formats

If you are trying to source alternative formats, start by understanding the workflow alternatives. Then make the most of your rights under the law by being confident about intermediate formats. Understand how your involvement can help the RNIB Bookshare service save you time and money and make sure you belong to mailing lists that can help solve problems and source accessible formats under the affordances of the copyright legislation. Bear in mind that your procurement policies can make a big difference to the amount of ongoing support you need to provide. Be aware of the fact that user experience does not always match accessibility claims.

The Bloor website gives a detailed overview if you need some background to creating accessible documents yourself and the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) has lots of information on standards as well as a directory of members who can help with more complex tasks – for example STEM subjects.

Supporting user independence

Learners can often support their own alternative format needs if they are given guidance.

We also have user friendly resources to support learner’s reading efficiency or writing productivity so check these – you may learn tricks to help your own practice too. There are links to tools to support organising and searching as well and we’ll update the resources as new tools become available.

Look out also for our Library and e-book categories in the Category Search feature (right).