Services to People with Print Disabilities Working Group

Welcome to the Services to People With Print Disabilities Working Group

Who we are

The Services to People with Print Disabilities Working Group (SPPD) was founded in August 2010 in response to growing concern about the changing availability of materials for people with print disabilities. The withdrawal of service to British Columbia’s public libraries by CNIB after a failed attempt to get funding from the provincial government and the ending of Interlink’s contract to locally produce and distribute audiobooks for people with print disabilities was threatening to reduce the availability of materials for this user group. The group is made up chiefly of public librarians, with some representation from the academic sector (CILS and VCC), the Canadian Federation of the Blind, and the school sector (ARC). Our three strategic directions are Information Seeking, Advocacy, and Training.

For more information on our origin and activities, see these articles in the BCLA Browser: Services to People with Print Disabilities Working Group (Thomas, 2010), Research for the Services to People with Print Disabilities Working Group (Westbrook, 2011) and It’s my right: Serving people with print disabilities (Thomas, 2012)

Past projects

In 2010/11, we worked with SLAIS (School of Library, Archival & Information Studies, UBC) student Danielle Westbrook to produce An Exploratory Report on the History of Services to People with Print Disabilities in British Columbia to give us and our colleagues a sense of where we have been and where we need to go to provide services to this user group.

In the fall of 2011, SLAIS student Lisa Snider volunteered her skills to help us develop, deliver and compile the responses from a survey of people with print disabilities to determine their needs and concerns about access to reading and listening materials – and to find out what they wanted from public libraries. The Executive Summary of responses was released in February of 2012.

In the spring of 2012, Lisa Snider assisted SPPD members in developing and delivering a survey of library staff to determine their training needs in regard serving people with print disabilities. The Executive Summary was released in early July 2012.

In May 2012, we submitted our comments on the CNIB HUB proposal for a national digital library to serve people with print disabilities to the Canadian Library Association for inclusion in their response to CNIB.

In 2013, the Accessibility Interest Group (AIG) and SPPD applied for and received a Vancouver Foundation grant to develop a toolkit aimed at assisting library staff on providing services to people with any type of disability. The Disability Awareness Toolkit was created in 2014. It consists of a guidebook for presenters, along with scripts and materials for a face-to-face workshop and webinar. For a complete explanation of the Toolkit, please click here. To learn about three key components of the Toolkit, please follow the links below.

Presenter’s Reference Guide
Workshop Presenter’s Guide
Webinar Presenter’s Guide

In 2013-2014, in response to our advocacy and that of many others across Canada, two national services were launched – the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). Members of our working group took an active role in ensuring they meet the needs for access to library materials for people with print disabilities.


Co-chairs: Margarete Wiedmann and Deb Thomas

Join the Conversation

Check out what everyone is discussing over on the forum BCLA Accessibility Interest Group here. Must be a member of BCLA or a forum member to view & discuss.