Improving Library Services to People with Disabilities and Reading Barriers

By Benetech, posted on

Libraries and library workers play a fundamental role in their communities. People turn to libraries for entertainment, learning, job searches, and more. Through a new project, led by the Ferguson Library in Stamford Connecticut, Benetech will be working to help improve and extend the benefits of libraries for community members with reading barriers and disabilities. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this project will consist of a needs assessment of the library community, and work to build organizational capacity, provide educational materials, and improve the accessibility of library resources. Learn more about the project in the press release from Ferguson Library, below.

The Ferguson Library Awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant Through Its Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program to Improve the Library’s Services for People with Disabilities and Reading Barriers

STAMFORD, August 11, 2021 –The Ferguson Library is pleased to announce it was awarded a $99,914 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through its Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. Funds will support the improvement of services for people with disabilities and reading barriers by developing educational resources and building the capacity of libraries to increase the accessibility and customization of digital resources and reading materials.

To that end, the Ferguson Library project team will conduct a broad-based needs assessment of the library community, develop a guiding roadmap to foster accessibility efforts nationwide, and pilot a sample training module that instructs library workers in modern accessible reading technologies and digital services.

The Ferguson Library was among 39 grant recipients nationwide which collectively received more than $10 million from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, an IMLS initiative that supports developing a diverse workforce of library and archives professionals to better serve the changing learning and information need of the American public.

“We are so pleased to receive this generous grant from IMLS through its Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program,” said Alice Knapp, CEO of the Ferguson Library. “These funds will help us move forward with the important work of fostering accessibility and making sure we can reduce barriers to reading and accessing services.”

As a primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums, IMLS, which also awarded 39 additional grants totaling more than $12 million through its National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, advances, supports and empowers American museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development.

The project will be supported by Benetech, the California-based nonprofit that created the Bookshare accessible e-book library and is a leader in accessibility standards and innovation.

“Libraries have long played a crucial role in democratizing access to information, and we look forward to collaborating with the Ferguson Library team to identify the challenges, needs, and opportunities for libraries to better serve their patrons with reading barriers,” said Brad Turner, VP and GM, Global Education and Literacy at Benetech.  

Related stories: Benetech Partners with State Libraries to Bring Bookshare to Adult Patrons with Reading Barriers