Speaking or writing about disability for audiences outside of the disability community is always challenging. What level of knowledge should I assume? How do I say something new and fresh to the already knowledgeable while bringing along those who are new to accessibility? It’s 2019. The ADA is 30 years old. Shouldn’t I assume a reasonable level of knowledge? Sadly, the Hunter’s Point library and Domino’s Pizza suggest I cannot assume anything. This entry is meant as an invitation to a conversation about higher level concerns about building accessibility into any library marketing or communications strategy. Please attend my session at LMCC on Wednesday at 3:45 pm. Please come with your questions and ideas based on the broad points I have outlined here.
The first step to accessible design is to examine your own thinking. Many of us, either consciously or unconsciously, think about accessibility in terms of the medical model rather than the social justice model of disability. The medical model looks at people as a problem to be fixed. The social justice model focuses on removing barriers to users with different needs.
Language and images contain subtle, or perhaps not-so-subtle, information about how we view people with disabilities. The language and images used in policies, marketing or other formal communication materials matters. Avoid language that is demeaning to disabled people or that uses disability as a prop or punchline. (Yes, I have seen libraries doing this.) All marketing plans should include the information disabled people need to request accommodations.
Many of your patrons use assistive technology and many more could benefit from it. Understand that using assistive tech is a very individual decision and always involves trade off. However, there are steps you can take to ensure your marketing materials will work with a person’s chosen assistive technology.
Accessibility is a moving target. Assistive technology continues to develop and we are always increasing our understanding of the needs of disabled people. Any plan to create an accessible marketing strategy needs to include efforts toward continued professional development of this critical competency. Lastly, remember that accessible design is always more thoughtful design that is better for everybody.
Angie Brunk has 15+ years of library experience and works with organizations to bring design and accessibility to the forefront of library marketing. Find out more about her here: http://angiebrunk.com/