Expectations of People with a Disability
Many people pay scant attention to detail and have relatively little awareness of the world around them.
This is rarely the case for a person with a disability. Planning is essential to minimise problems.
This section covers some of the general issues that people with disabilities face every day and also some areas that a person with a disability would expect a librarian to have some knowledge about when approached about library facilities and services.
People with disabilities expect to be treated with the same respect as other individuals, regardless of their disability. To achieve this:
- Ensure your library is accessible to all members of the community. For example:
– do you have steps at the entrance?
– is the door easy to open?
– could a person on crutches, a wheelchair user or even a pram move freely?
- Always speak directly to a person with a disability, even if they are with another person. If the person with a disability has a communication problem they will indicate this in a number of ways. They may point to the other person to speak on their behalf or they may write comments and perhaps expect written replies.
- If the individual is in a wheelchair, speak to them at eye level by pulling up a chair or crouching down to their eye level. This will automatically place you and them in what they call their “comfort zone” – you are showing that you are interested in what they have to say.
- Listen carefully to what the person with a disability requires. It may be necessary to ask them their preferences.
Genuine listening and trying to meet their needs on an individual basis will show that you are taking account of their requirements.