Accessible Libraries

‘You get to meet other people and hear their opinions. When you’re blind, especially when you can’t see at all, you need to keep in contact. The worst thing about being completely blind is you can’t really start a conversation very easily because you haven’t got eye contact… It’s nice to hear other people’s opinions.’
Assessing the Impact of Reading for Blind and Partially Sighted Adults, RNIB

We want to ensure that the almost two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK can visit a fully accessible library service, that has a local collection of accessible reading materials and information in physical or digital forms.

The Six Steps Promise

All public library services should:

  • Ensure that all blind and partially sighted customers are connected to the most appropriate service for their reading needs and that they are able to make full use of an accessible public library service
  • Use Reading Sight, the free website supporting blind and partially sighted people to access reading and reading services
  • Provide local collections of accessible reading materials and information in physical or digital formats, and be able to signpost customers to a wider range of resources
  • Plan your digital and physical access strategies in consultation with blind and partially sighted people
  • Designate a champion for the reading needs of blind and partially sighted people, who has familiarised themselves with the specialist resources and services available
  • Support and promote Make a Noise in Libraries fortnight run annually by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Share the Vision have developed a training course on the Six Steps Promise in partnership with Libraries Connected which is available to all library staff in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

‘Every six weeks they have a session led by the two librarians… They serve us tea and coffee and have a trolley with CDs and tapes on… and they read us the synopsis.’
Assessing the Impact of Reading for Blind and Partially Sighted Adults, RNIB


Getting around the library

Many blind and partially sighted shoppers have 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.

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Guiding someone with sight loss

If you see someone with a sight problem who may need help, you should introduce yourself, make sure the person knows who they are speaking to, explain who you are, and ask if assistance is needed. Let them state what kind of help they may need.

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Accessible reading

If you need a document converted to an accessible format, including braille, large and giant print, audio, EasyRead, or as a hybrid disc containing a number of formats, the RNIB has a transcription service that you may use.

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Customer service

You can’t judge what a person may be like, or what they may want or need, or how they conceive of their own identity, based on their appearance. Many disabilities (and other common causes of exclusion) are invisible or not immediately apparent.

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