Library patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), DeafBlind, blind or visually impaired (BVI) want and use many of the same services and programs enjoyed by patrons who are hearing and sighted.

It is important to keep in mind that these patrons may require some accommodations to gain full access to the library’s services, collections, and programs.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries is delighted to announce a set of resources to help libraries build the capacity for better service to patrons who are DHH, DeafBlind, or BVI: https://libraries.idaho.gov/dhh-bvi/. Included are definitions of these levels of ability; Deaf Culture and history; American Sign Language (ASL); Deaf Community and Education; communicating with the patron (or staff member) who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, DeafBlind, or hard of hearing; communicating during a pandemic; blindness and accessibility tips; working with ASL interpreters; connecting with the Deaf Community; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled; BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download); the Talking Book Service (TBS); other agencies that can help; providing equitable library service; and resources for learning more. Collection Development suggestions will be added as we become aware of them. Suggestions are welcome.

Whatever your library’s funding or staffing situation may be, every staff member can contribute to improving service to patrons who are differently abled. Just by being willing to educate yourself about the needs of these patrons (and staff members), you are displaying a positive and open attitude that can lead the way to greater changes. This attitude of willingness and patience to take the time to provide equitable access to all is the most important factor in improving their library (or work) experience.

Please send suggestions for improving this page (including notification of dead links) to Kevin Tomlinson at kevin.tomlinson@libraries.idaho.gov.

Our thanks to LeAnn Gelskey, TBS Coordinator, for maintaining the BVI resources, and to Ben Bibikov, the ICfL’s graphic designer, for the new logo!