Celebrating July as Disability Pride Month, Gleeson Library continues pursuing our goal of making our electronic resources and website equally available to all users, and we highlight a key database for learning more about the Disability Pride Movement.
Learning From Our Users
Presenting a clearly organized entry point to the wealth of resources we offer, Gleeson’s homepage is richly informative, with drop-down menus and several sets of links. Navigating such a webpage, however, often presents heady challenges for visually impaired users.
In recent years we have benefited from inviting visually impaired students to come and speak directly to library staff. They demonstrated the screen readers they use, impressing us with their ability to quickly navigate through the vocalized descriptions of our site’s pages and databases. Hearing from these users helped us to further appreciate the challenges they face.
After these presentations (the most recent was just this Spring), we gained a greater appreciation and understanding of how we might improve access. We also were able to implement some fixes right away, further aligning the library website with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG):
- Improved the content structure (landmarks, headings, tables, etc.) of our homepage, making it easier to navigate for those using assistive technologies.
- Improved the semantic HTML (roles, buttons, labels, forms) used on our homepage, providing clearer context to the various functions of the website.
- Enhanced the keyboard focus performance of the website by establishing a universal style for the visible focus indicator.
And yet frustratingly, there are limits we come up against when providing unilateral equal access. A chief example relating to the visually impaired is that PDFs are not readable via a screen reader.
Increasing awareness of such difficulties to realize real change is central to the Disability Rights Movement.
We’re proud to offer this database as a resource, which provides firsthand accounts from various sources and perspectives.
Here’s a brief scattering of what might be found inside:
- The film Zoom In gives a glimpse into the lives of five disabled people, delving into micro-aggressions and biases they face daily, offering viewers suggestions for how to be better allies and supporters.
- The history book The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation chronicles the development of the movement, stressing the wide range of disabilities affecting individuals and mapping out the policy-changing activism across decades.
- Harilyn Rousso’s feisty memoir Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back reflects on her cerebral palsy and how it impacts her relations with others as well as her own self-acceptance.
- The chapter “Deaf and Hearing Adults’ Attitudes Toward Genetic Testing for Deafness” by Anna Middleton found in Genetics, Disability, and Deafness explores controversial sides of the issue with clarity and understanding: “Some Deaf parents prefer to have deaf children and do not want the numbers of deaf children born to be reduced, threatening the future of their culture (Middleton et al. 1998). Hearing people with no knowledge of Deaf culture may find this perspective difficult to understand.”
- One of the real treasures to be discovered is The Disability Rag/The Ragged Edge Periodical Archives. This is a complete run of the revolutionary publication started up in 1980 that was a galvanizing force in the Disability Pride Movement.
Further Resources to Explore
Try searching “Disability Rights Movement” and/or “Disability Pride” in the following additional databases: