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Canadian Association of Research Libraries

Presentation by: Heather Cross
Canadian Associaton of Research Libraries (CARL)
Library Services for Students with Disabilities

Library Services for Students with Disabilities at Carleton University

I was invited to this workshop to replace Claire Callaghan of the University of Western Ontario as the CARL representative. I have been the Co-ordinator of Library Services for Students with Disabilities at Carleton University for six years now.

I work closely with the Co-ordinators at the Paul Menton Centre (PMC) for Students with Disabilities which is Carleton's special services centre on campus. Students with disabilities who require assistance can self-identify to the PMC and discuss their individual needs for accommodation and support services with a PMC Co-ordinator. Please see the PMC handouts for a complete description of services. There are many reasons why students with disabilities might choose Carleton as their place to study. Carleton is well known for its underground tunnel system which connects all buildings on campus and its 24 hour Attendant Services Program. Also, let's not forget the Library services.

Our University Librarian, Martin Foss, is totally committed to providing services for our students with disabilities. Many staff members contribute. As the Co-ordinator I oversee all services as well as run the Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre. I report to Elizabeth Knight, Head of Reference Services, who gives me the support and guidance I need. Margaret McLeod of the Reference Services Department assists students who require their course material transcribed into alternate format. Mostly she uses the W.R. MacDonald School service but has recently used the Unversity of Ottawa's brailling service. The Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre is staffed between September and April with Student Attendants who provide students with computer assistance and the gathering of Library material. Mike Saucier is our Technician from the Library's Systems Department who maintains computer hardware and software in the Joy Maclaren Centre. Staff in the Photocopy Centre within the Library will do photocopying for those unable to do their own and the staff at the Stacks Service Department are always on hand to give assistance to those with visual or mobility impairments. Our Circulation Department staff are always more than willing to go the extra mile to help our students.

Please see the attachments entitled "Services for Students with Disabilities 2001/2002" for an outline of all our services and "Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre" for a description of the accommodations available in our Centre. Also, please visit the Library's home page at where a link can be found for our Services for Students with Disabilities.

Based on my experience I know that providing written materials to our students with print disabilities in a timely manner is a real challenge. Throughout the Workshop I will be happy to share Carleton's experience and make suggestions for change. To be successful at University it is necessary that students have their material as soon as classes start. I am sorry to say that for many reasons this does not always happen. I would love to be able to find and help to implement changes to make this possible. This is so important.

In our Library we refer to the Copyright Act, Section 32, which makes provision for producing alternate format copies of materials for our students.

As I mentioned, Margaret McLeod makes orders on behalf of our students to the W. Ross MacDonald School. Obtaining books in braille in a timely manner is a problem through W. Ross. Here is an example of the amount of time it takes to receive books on tape from W. Ross. Order placed Sept 5, Sept 19 we heard from W. Ross that the book was not available on tape, Sept 20 OALS phoned to say that we should send them a copy of the textbook to be transcribed, Sept 28 book sent to OALS in Peterborough, Oct 15 first tape arrived.

Tafila Gordon-Smith, Interlending and Documents Supply Librarian, Mills Memorial Library at McMaster University wants me to pass on her impressions of the W.Ross service. She says, "… it can be 2-3 weeks before we hear back or received materials at peak times. This is particularly frustrating when the answer is to order from RFBD, which can add another 2 weeks or more." She also says, "Could something be done to speed up the provision of brailled materials?" Her very positive comments include, "I know the WRMS staff work extremely hard, but is there some way they could have extra funds and help at peak times?"

In the Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre at Carleton's Library we have the Kurzweil 3000 which we use as a supplement to the W. Ross service. While a student is waiting for their first tapes to arrive, they can scan and listen to their book chapters in the Centre. If a student is not able to do their own scanning, we provide assistance.

Barriers to providing alternate format materials for students are braille books not being available in a timely manner. I feel it is a waste of work for staff across Canada to be producing alternate format copies of the same book. The whole access to information for print disabled Canadians needs to be more centralized. Perhaps the National Library could play more of a role in this endeavour.

Thank you so much for allowing me to replace Claire Callaghan. I hope I can make a useful contribution based on my experiences.

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