Six steps

Six Steps Promise in Public Libraries

The Six Steps Promise sets out the experience that people with sight loss and other print disabilities should have through public library services. The Promise is written primarily for library staff, but should also be made available to library users.

Our Vision for this experience is:

  • Everyone visiting a public library is inspired by an exciting accessible environment which makes reading and seeking information a pleasure.
  • They have the opportunity to engage with libraries and reading through imaginative digital opportunities with support to build their skills, knowledge and creativity.
  • They have access to a range of inclusive and diverse books and other information resources in accessible formats which allow them to engage with reading both for pleasure and for daily living.
  • They are able to take part in a wide range of reading and cultural experiences, including book-based and digital activities, which are accessible to all.
  • They are actively involved in decisions about service developments.
  • They are supported through library services and activities taking place both in library buildings and in the community to improve their independence, health and wellbeing

There are almost two million blind and partially sighted people in the United Kingdom as well as many others who experience other kinds of print disability. Like everyone else, they need their library and information services, and public libraries have a duty to provide accessible services for every member of their local community.

Since 2010, The Society of Chief Librarians, Share the Vision and the Scottish Library and Information Council have worked in partnership to support the Six Steps Promise. Many library services are providing excellent services, and the Six Steps promise is intended to provide the framework charter which every library can support.

The Six Steps Promise offers a low-cost but significant contribution to making public library services accessible to people with sight loss and print disability.

The six steps

  1. Ensure that all blind and partially sighted customers are connected to the most appropriate service for their reading needs using the Six Steps, and that they are able to make full use of an accessible public library service

  2. Use Reading Sight (www.readingsight.org.uk), the free website supporting blind and partially sighted people to access reading and reading services

  3. Provide local collections of accessible reading materials and information in physical or digital formats, and be able to signpost customers to wider range of resources

  4. Plan your digital and physical access strategies in consultation with blind and partially sighted people

  5. Designate a champion for the reading needs of blind and partially sighted people, who has familiarised themselves with the specialist resources and services available

  6. Support and promote Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight (www.rnib.org.uk/manil) run annually by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)


Beyond the six steps

Want to go further? Here are some more ideas:

  • Accessible premises - ensure compliance with BS 8300 (2001) Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people (British Standards Institute)
  • Accessible information - adopt RNIB See It Right guidelines
  • Accessible website - adapt computers for blind and low vision users, RNIB have information on accessible software and technology
  • Showcase specialist suppliers, equipment and reading formats - dedicate a display area in larger libraries
  • Customer support - provide visual awareness training for staff, provide disability awareness training for staff, provide home delivery, provide staff or volunteer assistance with choosing books and accessing services
  • Inclusive activities - organise inclusive reading groups
  • Promoting your service - create relationships with local societies for blind and partially sighted people, the Visionary website can help. Also use local radio and local talking newspapers
  • Strategic planning - comply with Disability Equality Duty, forge relationships with other relevant departments, look at opportunities for shared services, monitor performance, participate in Share the Vision
  • If you represent a Library Service - sign up to the Six Steps promise here