Magazine article American Libraries

The Association's Associations: ASCLA Helps Bridge the Digital Divide. (News Fronts ALA)

Magazine article American Libraries

The Association's Associations: ASCLA Helps Bridge the Digital Divide. (News Fronts ALA)

Article excerpt

The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA) may be small (just under 1,000 members), but it is dedicated to helping close the gaps in the digital divide. ASCLA members are strong and vocal advocates for the rights of people with disabilities to access electronic information, and they have their work cut out for them.

According to a February U.S. Commerce Department report, A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet (www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/dn/), people with disabilities face insurmountable barriers to computer use. Although there are many reasons for the low usage of computers by people with disabilities, one major factor is inaccessible hardware and software. Libraries can help bridge this gap by providing accessible workstations. ASCLA has developed information on how to create an accessible workstation as well as a listing of assistive technology for people with disabilities (see the "Equity of Access" section at www.ala.org/ascla/issues.html).

Having accessible workstations in your library is just one part of serving the needs of people with disabilities--library collections and services must also be accessible. ALA's Library Services for People with Disabilities policy (www.ala.org/ascla/access_policy.html), passed by Council in January 2001, provides a good overview of disability law, library services, collections, and facilities for people with disabilities. A new ASCLA publication, Planning for Library Services to People with Disabilities (www. …

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