LIS: 7850, Issues in Librarianship: Introduction to Universal Access

For the next semester, this blog will also contain posts for my class on Universal Access.  I will be posting on a variety of topics to do with aging and physiological disabilities.  All posts will be tagged with “lis 7850” , to make them easy to find for my fellow classmates and my instructor.  They will also be categorized under the same title.

For my classmates, as well as those new to the blog, below you will find more information on why I am taking LIS 7850, as well as my assumptions going into this class.

I come into class with an interesting background in regards to aging and disabilities.  I spent a lot of time around people with physical and other disabilities as a child, and I grew up in a multi-generational household.  Not only did I grow up around people with disabilities, I have also worked as a home health care aid for an elderly woman, as well as a man who is a paraplegic.

As such, the assumptions that I hold about disabilities an aging are influenced by this, and are not many.  You could say that I have learned never to make assumptions about people with disabilities and the elderly.  Inevitably, I was always proven wrong.

1) Disabilities manifest differently for every person.  Two people may have the same disability, but it will manifest with its own unique challenges and issues.  2) Aging presents its own set of issues and challenges that cannot always be addressed in a blanket fashion.  3) Being old, or being a person with a disability does not have to affect your quality of life.  4) There is just as much diversity in aging and disabilities  as there is in other identities.

I am taking this class because I am very interested in eliminating barriers to access, in large part because of my experiences.  I want to make libraries a place where all people can access the information and materials they need.

Whether it is intentional or not, many people are ableist.  As a fellow classmate already pointed out, many able bodied people do not see stairs and other such things.  A person is ableist when the “Default” in their mind is able bodied, this is not intentional in many cases, as a society we are taught that able bodied is the norm.  Ageism is a similar concept, where young is the norm, and old is the exception, although the two are not the same issue.

I would also like to learn more to make my presentations, web content, and other such things more accessible to a wider range of people, including those who are blind, Deaf, or who have other barriers to full access.

Terminology is also important for me to be aware of, for example, many Deaf people do not like to be called hearing impaired.  I would rather use the terms chosen by a group of people as their own, that incorrect and offensive terms, selected by people outside of the community being spoken about.

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