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The paper describes the roles of the National Library of Canada and Canadian university and college libraries in the provision of library services to disabled students. Nine features of effective services in college and university libraries are presented. The National Library of Canada supports these services through the provision of a union catalogue of alternate format materials (CANUC:H) and the Adaptive Technology for Libraries Program, a funding program which assists Canadian libraries acquire equipment to make their collections and databases accessible to print handicapped Canadians.
Canada has over 250 colleges and universities with a total enrolment of approximately one and a half million students, of whom 112,000 have identified themselves as having some degree of disability. Although few in number, these students are guaranteed the right to an education free from discrimination based on their disability by Canada's constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At universities and colleges across Canada efforts are being made to remove barriers that disadvantage disabled students. Offices of Disabled Students Services have been established to modify programs, services and facilities to accommodate disabled students. Examples of accommodations frequently provided are: captioning of televised lectures for deaf students; building ramps for mobility impai red students; giving additional time for examinations to learning disabled students ; and providing textbooks and course materials in braille for blind students.
Use of university and college libraries for supplementary reading and research is an important part of a post secondary education in Canada. If disabled students are to be successful, they must have the same access to library services as other students. Libraries have, therefore, also been involved in efforts to accommodate disabled students at universities and colleges. Effective programs, w hich foster independence and self reliance in students while ensuring they receive the additional support necessary for success, incorporate the following nine features.
In the delivery of programs to disabled students, Canadian libraries have been able to rely on the support of the National Library of Canada. Through two of its core functions, fostering library development in Canada and co ordinating resource sharing among Canadian libraries, the National Library supports the delivery of library services to disabled Canadians.
The National Library has advocated the development of library services to disabled Canadians by all Canadian libraries since the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981. To support the provision of these services the Library developed guidelines, handbooks and directories, financed training videos, and provided extensive reference and advisory services.
In 1992, the Library launched the Adaptive Technology for Libraries Program, a further initiative to support development of library services to print handicapped Canadians. The Program provides up to half the cost of hardware or software that converts printed or electronic information to large print, braille, or audio formats, thereby providing access to books, serials, and databases not availab le in alternate format. Applications to the Program are judged by an external committee, which assesses such factors as knowledge of the user community, the selection process, the improvement in access to information, the promotion plan, and the assistance to be provided to library users.
In the first two years of the Program, 19 university and college libraries received funding. Some libraries launched services to disabled students with the equipment acquired; others expanded services to additional locations on campus or augmented existing services. Closed circuit televisions and optical character scanners to provide access to printed materials in large print, audio, and braill e were purchased by 13 libraries. The Program enabled 15 libraries to provide access to online catalogues, CD ROMs and the Internet in braille, large print or audio.
The National Library also supports the delivery of library services to disabled students through its role as facilitator of resource sharing among Canadian libraries. In response to requests from librarians in the education sector for a bibliographic tool to support identification and interlending of alternate formats, the National Library created CANUC:H, the Canadian Union Catalogue of Library Materials for the Print Handicapped. CANUC:H lists over 100,000 books and serials in large print, braille, audio and electronic formats held by over 30 Canadian libraries and alternate format producers. Several of the libraries reporting holdings to CANUC:H are college and university libraries. This union catalogue is part of the National Library's bibliographic database and is available onlin e in 650 Canadian libraries. Resource sharing of alternate format titles has enabled libraries to avoid duplicate production and provide material to students more quickly.
In another initiative to support resource sharing, the National Library is loading selected CANUC:H records on BLND, the database of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Library of Congress. BLND will be issued on a CD ROM, providing access to the holdings of alternate format producers in the United States, Ireland, and Canada in a format searchable by pri nt handicapped users.
In conclusion, Canada has adopted a decentralized and co operative approach to the provision of library services to disabled students, involving both university and college libraries and the National Library of Canada. In the coming years universities and colleges and the National Library will continue to work together to maintain and expand these services so that disabled Canadians have equal a ccess to post secondary education.