Library Council
University of Toronto Central Library System

Annual Report of the Library Services To Persons with Disabilities Committee - May 7, 2001

The Library Services to Persons with Disabilities Committee meets to review and make recommendations to the chief Librarian via Library Council, on issues affecting users with disabilities.

Investing in Students Proposal for Student Transcripts

The Investing in Students Task Force was established by the provincial government to advise the Minister of training, Colleges and Universities on ways to ensure that public funds are directed at providing the highest quality education for students while ensuring access, affordability and accountability. The Investing in Students Task force was to examine best practices in administrative operations and related expenditures in Ontario and other jurisdictions. Summary of findings available in "Portals and Pathways: A Review of Postsecondary Education in Ontario" document available at: ( http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/postsec/tasknew.html)

Members of the Library Access Committee submitted a proposal entitled "Read-E: Student Portal for Readings in Alternative Format at the University of Toronto" to address issues of providing alternate formats for individuals with print impairments (vision, learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities). A pilot project to establish a more centralized system for provision of materials in alternate formats (electronic text, large print and Braille) was proposed.

The following is the brief description of the project as it appeared in the proposal:

"Students with print impairments (which includes students with vision impairments, learning disabilities or physical disabilities), require access to textbooks and readings in alternative formats. The existing service delivery mechanism for post secondary institutions fails many students who require alternative formats. Transcripts, whether as Braille, large print, taped books or electronic text, frequently come well after class work and exams have begun. The University of Toronto proposes to streamline the process of searching for, retrieving or ordering publications in alternative formats by developing an on-line portal. This portal will provide students with a unified search tool to search all relevant databases and e-text repositories, and place orders on-line. This will significantly increase student independence and effectiveness. "

Transfer of Book Pick up to Information Desk Staff

To streamline services for patrons, individuals with disabilities requiring retrieval of library materials are now serviced through the library material retrieval / Document Delivery service. At the Robarts Library, patrons may make such requests at the General Information desk on the first floor. Additional information regarding this and other library services available to patrons with disabilities is available at: http://www.library.utoronto.ca/services/disabled/special.html

Accessibility Review

In 2000 there were two reviews of the accessibility of Robarts Library to patrons with disabilities. The first was commissioned by Student Affairs in anticipation of the move of the DisAbility Services Department to the firsts floor of Robarts Library from their current location on the third floor of the Koffler Building. Heather Snell, from Designable Environments reviewed the proposed space and plans to ensure they met barrier-free standards.

The second review was initiated by the Accessibility Audit Committee as part of a review completed on several buildings on campus. The Accessibility Audit Committee was composed of staff from across campus including Student Affairs, DisAbility Services and SAC. The Accessibility Audit Committee found Robarts Library to be one of the more accessible buildings on the St. George Campus. In general, the areas which rated high were the availability of assistive technical devices ie. height adjustable computer tables in the Information Commons. Suggested improvements to make Robarts library more accessible are reviewing potential way-finding systems for patrons, addressing elevator accessibility (primarily signage issues), and lower counters to accommodate individuals in wheelchairs in places such as the front Information desk and the desk at Microtext, the availability of more accessible washrooms and drinking fountains.

A detailed multi-phase plan for addressing access barriers will be drawn up by the committee in the next quarter.

DisAbility Services

Student Affairs', DisAbility Services for Students department is scheduled to move into renovated space on the first and fourth floors in Robarts Library from their current location on the third floor of the Koffler Building. Although the move will be entirely dependent upon the rate at which the renovations will be completed, it is anticipated that they will begin servicing students from the new Robarts location in September 2001.

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