Getting around the library

Some advice on making the library building easy to navigate for blind and partially sighted people.

Getting there and back

Think about the customer’s whole journey, including how they get to and from the library

  • Work outside in – link into wayfinding and transport networks.
  • Have a phone line for calling a taxi company who welcomes customers with a range of disabilities.
  • Find out the nearest bus stops, and link in to local systems such as minibus services.
  • Make sure that your library is clearly signposted on the outside. Practical steps, like keeping signage clean, will make things easier to see.

Browsing the library

Many blind and partially sighted shoppers experience difficulty locating and navigating escalators, stairs, steps, lifts and ramps. Getting around and finding the right products can be difficult especially when books and displays are periodically rearranged.

  • Apply colour contrast (a combination of light and dark eg dark text on a light background) hazard strips to the edge of escalator steps, stairs and handrails.
  • Provide large print floor plan maps
  • Designate a clearly defined "customer service" area adjacent to the entrance that customers know is monitored and that they can wait there for assistance.
  • Keep aisles as clutter free as possible with enough space for easy navigation including with a guide dog or sighted guide.
  • Use large print text throughout the library but preferably not block capitals. The usual mixture of upper and lower case letters makes word recognition easier for people with impaired vision.
  • Lighting should be diffused or directed away from shoppers to avoid glare, which can be uncomfortable or painful. All circulation areas and displays should be well lit with no significant changes in light level.

Top tips

Top tips on providing an accessible environment for disabled people (from the RNIB factsheet: Ten top tips for leisure and tourist industry staff)

  1. Remember, it is not necessarily someone’s disability that stops them from gaining access to a building. It is often physical barriers that prevent disabled people from having access.
  2. Remember, providing accessible facilities helps everyone not just disabled people.
  3. Remember that the Equality Act 2010 requires that you take reasonable steps to ensure that your premises are accessible to disabled customers.
  4. Undertake an access audit of your facilities to assess their accessibility. Ensure that it is carried out by a professional person with experience of auditing facilities.
  5. Create, wherever possible, a step free environment throughout the facility including the main entrance.
  6. Remember that good even lighting will help everyone not just disabled people.
  7. Is the signage at your facility clear and easy to understand?
  8. Ensure that disabled people are aware of emergency procedures and that key staff are aware of where disabled guests/visitors are located within the facility.
  9. Increased access leads to increased business and profits!
  10. Remember the four “P”s of providing accessible facilities: Policy. People, Premises and Product. These are all an integral part of accessibility.

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