Improving Library Services to People with Disabilities

Course Dates:

March 2 - 29, 2015

Two Live Online Sessions using FlashChat in Moodle:

Chat 1: Thursday, March 12, 2015, 1-2 pm Central Time
Chat 2: Thursday, March 26, 2015, 1-2 pm Central Time

Students who complete the required coursework for Improving Library Services to People with Disabilities will receive 1.2 CEUs (Continuing Education Units)! Registration rates--individual and group--for this course are $20 more than other courses in order to reflect this credit.

Register online now! Or, register by mail or fax by downloading the registration form (PDF format.)

Course Description:

Library services to people with disabilities are provided by all levels of library staff.  From the part-time aide charging out library materials to the library director determining policies, staff skills and attitudes are crucial for a satisfactory library experience.

All libraries have a plan for serving people with disabilities, whether it is the installation of ramps or the creation of special needs story times. But improvements are always possible.

Library staff who enroll will review the current level of service to people with disabilities then explore materials and sources that provide additional support or new ideas.

Who Should Take This Course:

This course is designed for all library staff, including support staff, general professional staff, age-level or subject specialists, managers and administrators.

Group registrations from the same library, library system or network are welcome and encouraged!

Here's what some of our previous group participants had to say about their valuable learning experience:

Several of our staff enrolled as a group, and used the course as a launching pad to have further discussion across the library. We all agree that there is much for us to do. It created momentum for us around the library about many issues of accessibility.

We implemented a team to begin looking at all aspects of how our library assists people with disabilities. We have already begun making recommendations for improvement to our department heads.

We have already begun to look at programs and services in light of what we’ve learned and will be setting up a process that will prioritize new work to implement enhancements and improvements. Several recommendations have already been made in the areas of staff development and training, modifications to web pages and program statements and adoption of new technologies.

I feel I have a much more open mind about my programming and I definitely keep accessibility issues in mind when I plan now. The most valuable thing I learned in this course is to not be afraid to offer help and services to someone different to me.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Library staff will identify patrons with disabilities who use the library and the resources that are available to assist them.
  2. Library staff will examine changes in attitudes, laws and technologies that have impacted people with disabilities.
  3. Library staff will demonstrate communication with people-first vocabulary and non-verbal techniques.
  4. Library staff will explore assistive technologies that are available for people with disabilities, either in their own library or in the current marketplace.
  5. Library staff will recommend changes in personal and organizational behaviors to improve services for people with disabilities.

Course Outline:

Week 1: 

  • Visible or invisible:  who are the people with disabilities?

Week 2:

  • What has changed?  Attitudes, laws and practices affecting services to people with disabilities.
  • Communication:  etiquette, alternative communication and people-first language.

Week 3:

  • Didn’t know we had that:  discovering assistive technology already available at your library.

Week 4:

  • Know the rules:  applying policies and procedures of your library.
  • One step forward:  share one personal goal and one organizational change that you would recommend to improve service in your library for people with disabilities.

Course participants who complete four assignments and two discussion postings will receive a certificate of completion from ASCLA.


Kate Todd has worked as a children’s librarian for The New York Public Library and as Emerging Technologies Librarian for Manhattanville College.  At Manhattanville College, she taught “Technology for Special Education” in the graduate School of Education. She has taught several online courses for ALSC (Association of Library Services to Children), including “Children with Disabilities in the Library.” 

Some of the children’s librarians who took the ALSC course have asked whether there is a similar course available for general library staff. This course has been designed in response to those requests.

Kate is currently working on independent projects, including online instruction for ALA. Her interests include online learning, educational games, library services for people with disabilities and readability/leveling strategies.

Registration Information:

Registration limit for each session: 30
Registrations for this session will no longer be accepted once the 30 student limit is reached.

Registration Fees (these fees reflect the $20 increase for courses offering CEU credits):

  • $150 for ASCLA members
  • $195 for ALA members
  • $230 for non-ALA members
  • $120 for student members and retired members

How to Register:

  • Online
  • By Fax: download, complete, and fax form (PDF format) to (312) 280-1538
  • By Mail: download, complete, and mail form (PDF format) to American Library Association, ATTN: MACS/Online CE Registration, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611