"Accessibility" is one of those concepts that can be explored in multiple ways. Lexico.com defines accessibility as the "quality of being…
- able to be reached or entered,
- easy to obtain or use,
- easily understood or appreciated."
Context plays a major role in determining accessibility. Are physical, attitudinal, and systemic barriers present or absent? Do barriers present themselves through the person or the environment? Does disability affect people of all abilities, or just those with medical documentation saying so?
There is no single pathway that can point the way to accessibility for everyone. Everyone's needs are different, and what may lead to accessibility for one, may not do so for another. For example, a wheelchair is the universal symbol for disability, but its use in parking spaces, on washroom doors, etc. can alienate people with mobility needs who don't use mobility devices.
Consider automatic doors, curb cuts, and ramps installed to remove access barriers for people with disabilities. People pushing strollers and carrying multiple packages can also benefit from these features. Accessibility, then, is an issue for the wider population as well.
Library Accessibility Services here at University of Waterloo embraces the belief that accessibility is about "people", not just "people with disabilities". Everyone has individual and diverse needs that require attention, whether temporary, permanent, physical, cognitive, or mental health.
We want to reach out to all students, showing them what we offer and setting them up with the services and amenities they feel may help meet their individual accessibility needs. Our plan is to meet with each student who contacts us, and collaborate to create an accessibility plan. Confidentiality is key, and we both encourage and value any feedback.
We welcome any student to visit or contact us to learn more and work together to meet needs that fall under this more comprehensive approach to accessibility. Visit the Library Accessibility Services website for more details on our services and amenities.
Sarah Murray, Library Accessibility Services Coordinator & AODA Advisor
519-888-4567, ext. 43012
Room 251C, Adaptive Technology Centre, Dana Porter Library
accessibility. 2020. In Lexico.com. Retrieved January 20, 2020, from https://www.lexico.com/definition/accessibility