Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 28 May 2024

The following post is one in a regular series on issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, compiled by a team of OCLC contributors.

Making presentations accessible for everyone

Image of a crowd of people raising their hands in front of a stage where a person is giving a speech.
Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash

June is a busy month for library conferences, and many librarians, including myself, are working on conference presentations. One aspect of preparation is making a presentation accessible. The accessibility checker in presentation software is a good place to begin with creating an inclusive presentation, but there are many accessibility issues, especially those not related to vision, these tools do not address. Many universities and professional organizations have “accessibility tips” that provide useful but incomplete and sometimes vague information. For example, the 2024 ALA Annual Conference has a Presenter Resources page with some good advice like describing images verbally, but also says, “be inclusive of all attendees by avoiding jargon, slang, and assumed knowledge.” The natural question I asked myself is, “How do I avoid jargon in a presentation about cataloging?”

I found more specific guidance about language and other accessibility issues on various websites, so I’m sharing that information in this post. Jargon is part of my profession so I cannot avoid it, but I can avoid losing my audience by spelling out acronyms, as the National Digital Rights Network’s Accessibility Guidelines suggest. These guidelines also suggest using slide numbers in presentations, which was new guidance for me. I also discovered several helpful tips on the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Making Events Accessible Checklist. This checklist contains tips useful for in person and virtual presentations such as avoiding blinking or flashing animations that could cause seizures and describing all relevant visual information in the environment, e.g., describing that half the audience raised their hands in response to a question. An audience member may have a disability that impacts their vision, hearing, movement, speaking, or understanding so all of these should be considered in making presentations accessible. Contributed by Kate James.

Support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence

Because libraries so often serve as a central place for gathering, sharing, and communicating, they can also help to identify, support, and refer community members who may be experiencing various forms of domestic and sexual violence. Victim Witness Advocate Miranda Dube, who is a former academic librarian and co-editor of “LIS Interrupted: Intersections of Mental Illness and Library Work,” will present a free ninety-minute webinar “Supporting domestic and sexual violence survivors at your library” 6 June 2024, 3:00-4:30 p.m. Eastern. Those who attend the WebJunction webinar will learn about recognizing signs of such abuse, when and how to offer support, and identifying state and local resources for assistance and collaboration.

Miranda Dube combines her firsthand experience helping survivors in the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program with her library work to promote services and resources for a too-often overlooked population. As she has written, her intention is to foster library environments that both offer real-life help and enable survivors to avoid “revictimization.” Contributed by Jay Weitz.

University of Michigan extends borrowing privileges to Native and Indigenous people

Earlier this month, the University of Michigan Library (OCLC Symbol: EYM) announced it would extend free borrowing privileges to Native and Indigenous people.  This is related to a new territorial acknowledgement put forward by the library.

The extension of borrowing privileges to Native and Indigenous people by the University of Michigan Library marks an effort to acknowledge and redress the failure of the university to honor an 1817 treaty which ceded land to the state in part for the future education of Anishinaabe people. The territorial acknowledgement also notes that not all tribes in Michigan benefit from state recognition, something that is also common in California where I live. The acknowledgement of institutional harms, paired with meaningful actions, are both examples of steps that libraries can take in moving forward. Contributed by Merrilee Proffitt.

Queer Liberation Library makes diverse, LGBTQ+ literature accessible throughout U.S.

On 3 May 2024, the Windy City Times reported that the Queer Liberation Library (QLL, pronounced “Quill”) launched a free online LGBTQ+ library with more than a thousand ebooks and audiobooks that anyone in the United States can access. Users sign up for a virtual library card at the website. Once their application is approved, they can access items from the library’s collection on Libby, a free app that libraries use to distribute online materials to their patrons. QLL was founded by a small group of volunteers who wanted to ensure queer reading materials were accessible to people throughout the country, regardless of what is available at their local libraries. It took nearly two years to raise funds, create a website, and build out the resource. Organizers chose to create a digital library because it required fewer resources to launch and the collection would be more widely accessible. More than 40,000 people currently use the library. Organizers are “committed to curating a collection that reflects the diversity of queer lives and imaginations,” according to the library’s website. “It is a simple fact that more books have been published about cis gay men than aromantics or intersex people, for example. Knowing this, we will actively seek out materials from all parts of the LGBTQ+ community, to resist replicating the historical and ongoing bias within the publishing world.”

As public and school libraries find it more difficult to collect and share LGBTQ+ literature due to bans and threats, librarians are using non-traditional ways to get these materials to patrons. “With the current climate and book bans and lack of access, there’s a need that we’re happy to fulfill,” said volunteer Amber Dierking. “But there’s also just such a delight and joy to be able to do something like this. So, we’re not just filling a need but also having fun with it along the way.” Contributed by Morris Levy.

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