By Karlene Clark, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota / Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Chair
Accessibility is a large part of diversity and is part of the attitude of service provided by libraries. Many locations have accessible bathrooms and elevators, but now it’s time to consider other design needs. Universal Design takes us from making as-needed accessibility adjustments, to thinking proactively on what can be done in spaces to better serve how people negotiate life with a disability. Moving from reactive to proactive planning will make it easier for everyone to utilize a space!
A few design point that your library could consider:
- Visual distractors - Create a space with little visual stimulation. This can be as simple as not having to see multiple people walking by. Consider mobile whiteboards, if a more permanent setup is not an option.
- Auditory dampening – If private study rooms are not available, noise cancelling headphones or “tulip” chairs are a few ways to help those that need a quieter space.
- Tech assistance - Screen reader software is one example
- Often overlooked mobility needs - Sit-to-stand and/or wheelchair workstations
The goal of Universal Design is inclusivity of all people in the same space with access and ability to use the same items with equitable ease. A nice summary of how Universal Design works can be seen at “Meet the Normals”.