DO-IT Heads For the Library!

Beth Fraser, library project coordinator

When was the last time you visited a library? If you haven't visited one lately, you might be surprised at what you see. You might not realize it, but the truth is, most libraries deal with computers and technology just as much as they deal with books and magazines. And libraries increasingly rely on computers to provide services that you can't get from books. People routinely visit museums in Paris, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and untold other fascinating worlds all while sitting at a computer terminal in their local library.

Libraries have always played a pivotal role in providing information and entertainment in our society. And although a growing number of school and public libraries are providing connections to the Internet and other electronic resources, few are equipped to provide individuals with disabilities access to these resources. On the other hand, the development of adaptive technologies means that these resources could be made accessible. An exciting new project at DO-IT addresses this gap, seeking to open wider the doors of libraries and the world of information to disabled citizens.

The project, underway this summer, educates librarians about adaptive technology and universal access design features. Librarians like to share information, so we expect they will turn around and help make electronic resources in their libraries accessible to people with disabilities! Training materials and a video are currently being developed and will be available during the coming year. Funded by the Telecommunications Funding Partnership, and run by DO-IT with support from the University of Washington Libraries, the project represents a critical effort to integrate people with disabilities into American society with the help of one of our most important community institutions: the library.

As the librarian who coordinates this project, I would like to hear about your library experiences! You can reach me at the DO-IT office at 685-1849, or by e-mail at