Improving Library Services to People with Disabilities

Monday, 10/24/2016 - Sunday, 11/20/2016

There will also be one live online session on Wednesday, November 9 at 1:00 pm Central Time using

It has been more than 25 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act that outlawed discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States.  Libraries have responded with a variety of initiatives.  All libraries have a plan for serving people with disabilities, whether it is installation of ramps or creation of special needs story times.  But improvements are always possible.

In this four week course, you will evaluate current library accessibility in areas of physical space, collections, communication, staff development, programming and partnerships.  You will explore new technologies, such as mobile apps, that are being used by people with disabilities.  You will explore how to include patrons in your planning and implementation process.  Then you will begin developing your own plan for improving library services to people with disabilities.

Course outline

Week 1:  Use accessibility checklist to evaluate your library
Week 2:  Apps, and other new technologies, that support accessibility
Week 3:  Find planning partners for improving services
Week 4:  Prepare a plan for yourself and your library

Students who complete the required coursework for Improving Library Services to People with Disabilities will receive 1.2 CEUs (Continuing Education Units)

Learning Outcomes

  1. Library staff will evaluate the accessibility of the library with a usability checklist.
  2. Library staff will identify patrons with disabilities who use the library and the resources that are available to assist them.
  3. Library staff will discuss service model options for various communities of people with disabilities.
  4. Library staff will explore mobile apps and other new technologies that are used by people with disabilities.
  5. Library staff will recommend changes in personal and organizational behaviors to improve services for people with disabilities.

Who Should Attend

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.


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.



(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

Tech Requirements

ALA will use Moodle for all online educational courses. Learn more about Moodle at

The Moodle login instructions will be sent the Friday before the start date. The course site will remain open one week after the end date for students to complete any assignments and submit the course evaluation survey.

You will receive access instructions from Andrea by Friday. If you registered after Friday morning, you should have the instructions by Monday morning.


1.2 CEUs are to be earned upon completion of this course.


Questions about your registration should be directed to Technical questions about the webinar should be directed to Andrea Hill, ASCLA Web Manager, at

Thank you and we look forward to your participation!