It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Accessibility in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Introduction
This guide is an introduction to accessibility for staff at galleries, archives, museums, public libraries, and academic libraries.
Perceptions of disability, and the treatment of people with disabilities, have changed over the 20th and 21st centuries. Like other civil rights movements, the Disability Rights Movement has a long history, and has been largely led by people with disabilities demanding and creating those changes. The resources below are summaries of the Disability Rights Movement and place the imperative of GLAM accessibility into context.
Made by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), this article has an accompanying lesson plan "Equal Treatment, Equal Access: Raising Awareness about People with Disabilities and Their Struggle for Equal Rights"
This article from the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement Archives at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library describes the independent living movement within the broader movement for disability rights.
This article from the National Parks Service's Telling All Americans’ Stories: Disability History Series highlights activists from the 1960s-1980s.
In addition to an ethical and moral obligation to serve all patrons, galleries, libraries, archives, and museums are subject to certain laws and regulations mandating equitable access for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all public and private places provide equal access to programs, services, and activities to individuals with disabilities. The following resources summarize aspects of the ADA that may apply to your institution. As you review these laws and policies, reflect on how your institution does or does not comply—and on how you could move beyond a "letter of the law" approach to make your space radically accessible in ways these laws and policies may not stipulate.
Got new construction in the works? All new facilities must comply with these standards for accessible design. These standards include precise measurements for how much room is required for wheelchair accessible spaces.
Under Title I of the ADA, all workplaces with over 15 employees must provide "reasonable accommodation" in the form of modifications to jobs, the work environment, or the hiring process to give people with disabilities equal access to applying for and successfully performing jobs. This might include installing ramps, adjusting workplace policies to allow for service animals, or providing flexible work schedules.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to all entities receiving federal funding. Specifically, Section 504 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination" under any program that receives federal funding.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to federal websites and the websites of organizations receiving federal funding. This site breaks down some of the standards and related laws applying to accessible website and information technology design.
Section 8 of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines details certain regulations that libraries in particular have to follow, including distance between shelves, height of displays, and providing accessible reading spaces.
Disability Studies Quarterly is a multidisciplinary and international journal that focuses on the issues people with disabilities face in different environments.
Technology and Disability focuses on technology as a means to support or improve the daily functioning and experience of diversely-abled people. 🔑
Elea Chang (they/she) is a a disability justice advocate, community organizer, and lettering artist in Portland, Oregon. They are the creator of Disabled And Here, a disability-led stock image and interview series celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).
One of the most fundamental aspects of disability theory that GLAM professionals should understand is the difference between accessibility and accommodation. Kevin M. O’Sullivan, the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Texas A&M, and Gia Alexander, a researcher on accessibility in digital environments at Texas A&M have detailed the distinction between accessibility and accommodation in their article, Toward Inclusive Outreach: What Special Collections Can Learn from Disability Studies. They discuss that accessibility requires “applying forethought in designing inclusive experiences for... patrons," and accommodation is about applying changes to already existing experiences due to a formal request or perceived need. Before an individual comes into a space, information professionals should already have taken into account that people with different mental and physical capabilities will come into their spaces. The resources below go into depth about how accommodation shifts the blame to people with disabilities, requiring them to "out themselves" in spaces they may not feel comfortable doing so, and how accessibility is. much preferred alternative.
A paper from Disability Studies Quarterly that details how the use of the term "accommodations" influences negative perceptions of students with disabilities by both other students, staff, and faculty.
WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool Demo
WAVE is a free web tool for evaluating the accessibility of web content provided by WebAIM and Utah State University. This video will walk you through how to use and understand some of WAVE's basic features. An audio transcript of the video is available here.
Zoom is a popular platform for hosting webinars and other digital programming for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. This video demonstrates how to enable closed captioning and transcription while hosting a Zoom session to enhance the accessibility of your institution's virtual programs. An audio transcript is available here.
To learn more about Zoom accessibility features including screen reader support and keyboard shortcuts, visit the Zoom Accessibility Page at zoom.us/accessibility.
Alexander Street is an interdisciplinary multimedia database that has a wide variety of collections, including Social Work Online, an assortment of documentaries and other resources that detail the realities of social work.  🔑
GALE's Opposing Viewpoints database is a collection of resources that covers current social and political issues, including a variety of articles, reference resources, and statistics on disability rights and injustices. 🔑
Urban Studies Abstracts covers subjects of relevance to the study of urban affairs and community development, including disabled communities and people. 🔑
One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent--but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Published in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people. It invites readers to question their own understandings, while celebrating and documenting contemporary disability culture.
This quasi-systematic review uses a critical disability framework to assess definitions of disability, use of critical disability approaches, and hierarchies of credibility in LIS research between 1978 and 2018. The authors present quantitative and qualitative findings about trends and gaps in the research, and discuss the importance of critical and justice-based frameworks for continued development of a liberatory LIS theory and practice.
Restricted Access by Elizabeth Ellcessor
Publication Date: 2016-03-29
While digital media can offer many opportunities for civic and cultural participation, this technology is not equally easy for everyone to use. Hardware, software, and cultural expectations combine to make some technologies an easier fit for some bodies than for others. Restricted Access investigates digital media accessibility--the processes by which media is made usable by people with particular needs--and argues for the necessity of conceptualizing access in a way that will enable greater participation in all forms of mediated culture.
Critical Disability Theory by Dianne Pothier (Editor); Richard Devlin (Editor)
Publication Date: 2006-07-01
In this book, twenty-four scholars from a variety of disciplines contend that achieving equality for disabled people is not fundamentally a question of medicine or health, nor is it an issue of sensitivity or compassion. Rather, it is a question of politics, and of power and powerlessness. This book argues that we need a new understanding of participatory citizenship that encompasses disabled people, new policies to respond to their needs, and a new vision of their entitlements.