Published on October 28, 2018
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JJ Pionke University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Pionke@Illinois.edu @jjpionke Building an Assistive Technology Workspace CURRENT STATUS • Discussions for the potential space began in spring, 2017 in the Accessibility Advisory Group for the University Library. • The space went through several redesigns as personnel and goals shifted. • Development was delayed due to a funding source change that enables a more complete assistive technology working space. • Development further delayed because the Main Library building itself is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. • Currently gathering data and developing a purchasing plan for materials. • Currently waiting for various committees to approve enhanced funding, space renovation, etc. INTRODUCTION Problem Statement: The Main Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign dates back to 1924 and as such does not easily meet modern standards for accessibility though it is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Solution: Among other modifications, create a working space specifically designed for students with disabilities that is easy to access and use, in a central location. Potential requirements: • On the first floor, near an accessible entrance, and near an information point. • Accessibility hardware, software, and furniture. • The space should be reservable on the library’s room reservation system. • Its own entrance so that patrons with disabilities may come and go without assistance or surveillance. SURVEY RESULTS In the late spring semester of 2018, a short survey was distributed to students registered for accommodations via Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) and to the general student population. Perhaps due to the time of year and any number of other factors, response to the survey was limited with only 12 entries. WHAT’S NEXT • Determine the equipment that needs to be purchased for the space. • Develop a marketing/outreach plan to encourage usage. • Create an evaluation plan for usage and feedback. • Conduct user experience tests for space performance enhancement. A SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY Burgstahler, S.E. (2015). Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press. Farmer, L.S.J. (2013). Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Chicago, ALA Editions. Feinber, S., Jordan, B., Deerr, K., & Langa, M. (2014). Including Families of Children with Special Needs. Revised by Carrie Scott Banks. Chicago: Neal-Schuman. Hamraie, A. (2017). Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Priestner, A. & Borg, M. (2016). User Experience in Libraries: Applying Ethnography and Human-Centered Design. New York: Routledge. Vance, M. L., Lipsitz, N.E., & Parks, K. (2014). Beyond The Americans with Disabilities Act: Inclusive Policy and Practice for Higher Education. Washington, D.C.: NASPA. Vincent, J. (2014). Making the Library Accessible for All. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Other suggestions for the space included: • Adjustable computer screen heights • Low brightness computers • Standing and sitting computer work stations • Ergonomic mouse • Accessible printer • Staffing to assist with station adaptation as needed • Over the ear headphones Quiet Study, 7 Group Work, 6 Use of or trying out assistive technology, 5 Meeting with a professor or librarian, 4 Using library resources/books, 9 HOW MIGHT YOU USE A DESIGNATED ACCESSIBLE WORK SPACE? Quiet Study Group Work Use of or trying out assistive technology Meeting with a professor or librarian Using library resources/books 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 A chair with adjustable height arms A chair without arms A height adjustable table without a computer Alternative lighting An additional non-adjustable table as a workspace White noise machine Whiteboard Other What types of furniture would work best for you in an accessible work space? What types of furniture would work best for you in an accessible work space? Large monitor, 4, 15% Dual monitors, 4, 15% Curved/ergonomic keyboard, 3, 11% Large print keyboard, 3, 11% Alternative input device, 1, 3% Flatbed scanner, 3, 11% Overhead scanner, 4, 15% Speakers, 1, 4% Screen magnifier, 3, 11% Other, 1, 4% What computer hardware would you like available on the computer(s)? Large monitor Dual monitors Curved/ergonomic keyboard Large print keyboard Alternative input device Flatbed scanner Overhead scanner Speakers Screen magnifier Other An interesting criticism of the potential accessible work space from a survey participant: “I am not convinced that an exclusively accessible workspace is a good use of University resources. Students who need the assistive hardware and software should be able to obtain it from State Vocational Rehabilitation Services, so that they have access to it at all times, and not just in the library. I, personally, would not likely use the space often, if at all. the main advantage for me would be to get exposure to and training with assistive software that I do not currently use, so that I could assess as to whether I were using the best software and hardware for my disability needs.” While this comment has a valid point, an element of concern is that the participant isn’t taking into account is that not all students with disabilities are registered with disability services or the State Vocational Rehabilitation Services.