National AccessAbility Week

by Beth Zutter, Community Librarian, and Rachael Collins, Collections Librarian

National AccessAbility Week starts on May 26th and celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and highlights the work of individuals, organizations and communities that are removing barriers in our ongoing efforts to become a more accessible, more disability-inclusive Canada.

Take a moment to think about your day: How many doors did you walk through that open themselves for you? Did you look up from your phone to cross the street because you heard the walk signal change? Did you zoom in on a webpage so you could read small text? Every one of these interactions made use of accessibility accommodations. 

Accessibility is vital to navigating the modern world, and it’s become so integrated into what we do that we often don’t even think about it. At Strathcona County Library, accessibility is woven into our collections of audiobooks and large print, our in-house tools like accessible computers, and even our Bookmobile, which takes the library into all corners of the county and invites residents of all physical abilities onboard.

Here are some ways to explore how the library is accessible.

Listen to the Edmonton Journal.

PressReader is an online resource giving you instant access to thousands of the most popular magazines and newspapers from Canada and abroad. PressReader in particular includes a number of accessibility features such as the ability to navigate the site using only your keyboard, an article view that strips away images leaving only basic text, and a built-in audio article reader that can accommodate patrons with visual impairments and those who just want to do something else while digesting the latest news.

Edmonton Journal

Turn text to speech (C-Pen).

Our new C-Pen is a text-to-speech device that is slightly larger than a marker and operates similar to a highlighter. You drag the pen along a line of text and it will read it out loud to you. This is a handy device for students and anyone who has printed books or documents that they want to translate into audio. Borrow the C-Pen from our main floor Information Desk.

Read Alberta eBooks.

For some patrons, traditional print books can be difficult to read. Standard font sizes can be too small for someone who is losing their vision (and impossible for someone who is completely blind). Large print books might be too heavy for someone who has arthritis in their hands. Books of all sizes can be impossible to operate if your hands shake or you can’t turn a page. Plus, a variety of medical conditions can make it difficult to read—from dyslexia that causes difficulties with word recognition, to a stroke that impacts your reading comprehension, to a concussion that causes fatigue, headaches and concentration problems.

Accessible Alberta is a new initiative from the Book Publishers Association of Alberta. Each digital title has been made accessible, is published by an Alberta publisher, and is available for immediate download through the province’s Read Alberta site.

An Anthology of Monsters

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Taken by the Muse

Try out a DAISY player.

The library can help you explore different reading formats to find one that works for you. In addition to things like large print books, audiobooks, eBooks and read-along sets, we can also get you books in accessible formats like DAISY audiobooks and braille. The library can even loan you DAISY players, like Victor Readers and Envoy Connects (coming soon). DAISY readers can be expensive, so this is a great way to test out a device to see if it will work for you.

DAISY Victor Reader Stratus (portable)

The library also partners with the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS) to offer more accessible titles than what you’ll find on our shelves. For more information on these partnerships read the article "Accessibility at the Library."

Build memories and connections.

Our Memory Kits are carefully curated totes of items meant to stimulate memories and inspire connections. Our themed Memory Kits contain items like photo cards, discussion questions, simple games, music, and movies. They are all themed around a specific topic like a season or decade. Our Tactile Memory Kits are designed for folks with more advanced memory or sensory concerns, and contain more hands-on items. These include soothing activities like lacing activities, aqua paints, fidget widgets and more.

Tactile Memory Kit

Memory Kit

Want to learn more about accessibility at the Strathcona County Library? Check out this post from last year's AccessAbility Week to learn about more formats and services.