Citation: Jaeger, P.T., Wentz, B., & Bertot, J.C. (2015). Libraries and the future of equal access for people with disabilities: Legal frameworks, human rights, and social justice. in B. Wentz, P.T. Jaeger, & J.C. Bertot, (Eds.), Accessibility for persons with disabilities and the inclusive future of libraries. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group.
In this book chapter from a 2015 book focused on accessibility in libraries, the authors look at several legal structures intended to provide equal access to library services for those with disabilities. This chapter is in the “Digital Library Accessibility” section of the book, so deals largely with access to digital resources (an earlier section of the book contains chapters on physical accessibility issues).
The authors make the argument that “Information and the Internet can now be seen as being central to human rights,” (p.239), citing articles as early as 2000 which argue this, noting that the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly declares that people have the right to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media” without interference (p.240).
After discussing how library and information organizations like ALA, IFLA, and UNESCO act as proponents of libraries’ roles as agents of social justice in this sense, and providing a basic overview of laws in various countries intended to ensure equal Internet access for those with disabilities, the authors move into discussing how public libraries already provide access to many online resources for free, as well as providing education on digital and information literacy (p.246).
Although the authors note that these are “uniquely important to people with disabilities,” (p. 247), and briefly discuss several ways that libraries (in general and specifically) focus on those with disabilities (p. 248), little time is spent focusing on the details of how libraries can increase digital accessibility in any practical sense. To be fair, this is largely a “why” chapter, but the lack of specifics is still disappointing.