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Computer Technologies to Aid Special Audiences

From Chapter 1, "Who Aren't You Serving Digitally?"
Everyone has heard of the Digital Divide and the serious ramifcations it brings to providing information to all. This report addresses the needs of three groups disenfranchised by the explosion of electronic information:

  • People with disabilities
  • Older Adults
  • People for whom English is a second language (ESL)

These groups could immediately benefit by libraries adapting computer workstations to accommodate a wider array of the general population, offering computer instructions tailored to patron's needs, and designing usable and accesssible Web sites.

Issues such as staff training, patron training, curriculum design, marketing programs, and funding are covered. Appendix A sums up what is happening in libraries in regard to serving patrons with disabilities.

About the Author
Barbara T. Mates, a librarian by birth, cannot remember when she did not avail herself of the riches of her public library (The Cleveland Public Library). Early on she realized the library could make a poor person rich and could serve as an equitable educational facility--or so she thought.

For years she worked as a children's librarian and a branch manager. But when she took the helm of the Library for the Blind in 1985, she realized her new patrons couldn't use the resources of the print library, and she became an information advocate for print-impaired patrons.

She published Library Technology for Visually and Physically Impaired Patrons in 1991 and she hasn't stopped writing or talking about the subject since. Subsequent titles include: Adaptive Technology for the Internet (ALA Editions, 2000); "Accessibility Guidelines for Electronic Resources" (Library Technology Reports, ALA TechSource 37:4); "Targeting the Fastest Growing Patron Group--Seniors" (Libray Hi Tech, 2002); and 5-Star Programming and Services for Your 55+ Library Patrons (ALA Editions, 2003).

Mates lives with her husband, James, in Cleveland, Ohio, and enjoys reading, music, and vacationing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Library Technology Reports Archive