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Staff & Administration • Library Documents

UW Library Accessibility Plan Report

The Library's Accessibility Plan, 2003-2004

The University of Waterloo Library has had a long-standing commitment to persons with disabilities. For example, University press releases from October 1980 note that the Library acquired both a Kurzweil Reading machine and a Brailler. The Kurzweil Reading Machine, which electronically scanned printed text and read it aloud in a synthetic voice, represented a significant advance in the development of technology for the blind and persons with visual impairments.

The machine was donated to the Kitchener district of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) by Mrs. Elizabeth Burton of Guelph, who had a strong interest in helping students with low vision. For maximum access to the machine by community users and students alike, the Kurzweil was housed in the Dana Porter Library. A staff member trained in its use provided instruction to users.

On the recommendation of the CNIB, the Library purchased a Brailler to be used in conjunction with the Kurzweil.

Twelve years later, in 1992, the Library opened the Accessibility Centre (in 2000, the name was changed to the ‘Adaptive Technology Centre’) to give persons with disabilities better access to resources and services. The Centre evolved out of a special collaboration between the Library and the Office for Persons with Disabilities. Principal funding came from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

The area was equipped with Kurzweil Reader (an updated version of the 1980 machine), a micro-computer with voice-output capabilities, a closed-circuit TV magnifier, four-track tape recorders, and other adaptive technology.

The Library’s commitment to providing the highest quality service to all students at the University of Waterloo was articulated in the following policy, established in 1992:

"The University of Waterloo Library endeavours to provide equitable access to library facilities and materials to all members of its community. In acknowledging the need for alternatives by some individuals to standard library services, and in modifying both the physical structure and policies within the library system, the library is working towards providing independent access by everyone to the library's resources.

Accessibility Initiatives & Planning the Accessibility Plan

By 2003, the Library had a significant number of accessible features and services in place. Some of the highlights include:

Policies, Programs and Services:

Physical Environment and Facilities

Access to Technology

Electronic Access

Staff Awareness

Janet Wason
November 12, 2003

Back to Services for Persons with Disabilities

Executive Secretary
Last Updated: May 26, 2005