DO-IT Library Project Wrap-Up

Beth Fraser, DO-IT project coordinator

Want to find out Ken Griffey's lifetime batting average? Interested in learning what marine biologists spend their time doing? Want to find a good book to read? When you need to find information for a school project, or to learn about careers and internships, or just to win a bet, where do you go? Most people think of visiting or calling their local library.

Libraries have lots of information and entertainment resources that can help you first of all be more productive and successful in your life, and second of all, have more fun while you are doing your life! The wonders of adaptive technology and computers have opened up whole new vistas of information and entertainment resources to people with disabilities. Library resources that have been designed to be universally accessible make government documents (find an application to get a passport on the Web, send it by snail mail to the Department of State and presto, you're ready for Paris!), encyclopedias (your teacher wants you to write a report on one species in the genus Platyrrhini), and library catalogs (visit your library's online catalog on the Internet, request a copy of Avis book, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and have it delivered to your doorstep) readily available to people with disabilities!

But wait. Hold the party. There is one slight problem. Not all librarians know about using universal design to make sure that their Web and library resources are accessible to the widest possible number of people. But, get ready to cheer--thanks to DO-IT, universal design guidelines are now in the hands of many librarians across the country!!

For the past year, DO-IT has sponsored and I have coordinated a project funded by the Telecommunications Funding Partnership to develop materials and programs to educate libraries and other educators about universal design, adaptive technology and accessible services. During the course of the project over 1500 librarians attended presentations on adaptive technology and accessible Web design at 21 conferences that DO-IT staff, volunteers and scholars presented. Over 300 libraries across the nation also received complimentary copies of the presentation materials to help jump-start their commitment to accessible libraries. You can learn more about the project and see many of the materials developed by visiting DO-IT's Web site at http://www.washington.edu/doit/UA/. To obtain printed and videotaped project materials, contact the DO-IT office.

Past and present DO-IT Scholars made important contributions to the project! Scholars Priscilla and Eric shared from their experiences using the Web and computers with educators and librarians at conference presentations. Michael, Matt, and Kris are featured in a videotape on accessible Web design developed through the project. Thank you Priscilla, Eric, Michael, Matt and Kris!!

The next time you visit your public or school library, take this article along and show it to the librarians. Then you'll be helping to spread the word, too!