A&DS News and Event Roundup – May 2021

Our monthly “Roundup” series features articles, upcoming events, and other items of interest to Section membership. If you have suggestions for items for next month’s A&DS Roundup, please email us at adsectionblogSAA at gmail dot com.

Call for Papers:

Cripping the Archive: Disability, Power, and History (edited by Jenifer Barclay and Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy)

This collection will explore the relationship between disability and the archive. We envision essays that collectively challenge “compulsory able-bodiedness”/able-mindedness (McRuer, 2006) – the ubiquitous beliefs and practices that center able-bodiedness in service of normativity. We invite contributors to ‘crip’ the archive, to adopt a critical orientation that illuminates and disrupts ableist power structures and dynamics and analyze how ableness informs the politics of the archive as a physical space, a sacred place, a discriminatory record, and a collection of silences. We seek work that uses a wide range of methods from authors who foreground the lived experiences and representations of disability in their work. We also strongly encourage submissions that use intersectional, interdisciplinary, and transnational approaches to the question of disability and the archive. We welcome submissions from scholars, writers, and artists and will accept 300-500-word abstracts for this collection through May 15, 2021.

Topics include, but are not limited to:
●    Objects, museums, curiosities; disability on display
●    The absence of disability in archival finding aids and indexes
●    The paradox of disability as both hypervisible and invisible in the historical record and archival imagination
●    Centering disability in the archives of medicine, science, and technology
●    The accessibility of archival spaces and materials
●    The impact of charged and negative disability terminology in changing historical contexts (i.e. monstrous, mad, deaf and dumb, crippled, superannuated, invalid, retardation)
●    Uncovering forgotten histories of disability in the archive and revisiting familiar archival sources through a disability lens
●    Identifying and confronting archival erasures rooted in intersectionality
●    Disability approaches to digital archives
●    The archive as a space of resistance (i.e. the reclamation of knowledge systems, ontologies, and identities structured by disability)
●    Decolonizing the archive of disability, Eurocentric understandings of the body and disability
●    Disability and the archive in transnational perspective
●    Myths of overcoming and inspirational narratives in the archives
●    The challenges of locating disability in already contested archives (e.g. slavery, colonialism, etc.)

For more information and submission details, see: https://networks.h-net.org/node/73374/announcements/7515044/call-abstracts-edited-volume-cripping-archive-disability-power.

Upcoming Talks and Learning Opportunities:

A&DS + AACS Discussion on Intersectionality

May 6th, 3pm CST

Hosted by the SAA Accessibility and Disability Section and the Archivist and Archives of Color Section, we invite you to an open discussion on cross-section participation, intersectionality, and building resilience as our profession demands more from BIPOCs and those with disabilities. Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAkfuurpjgpHtfLUXJXCSLmFVfdYsOnq6dW.

Midwest Archives Conference presentation on Accessibility

May 13th, 3:30-4:30pm CST

During the Midwest Archives Conference, Lindy Smith, Veronica Denison, Lauren White, and Zachary Tumlin will presenting on “Improving Accessibility in Archival Spaces.” The full conference program is available on the MAC website. 

Web Archiving Coffee Chat

May 19th, 6pm EST

Join the Web Archiving Section for a coffee chat co-hosted by the Accessibility & Disability Section (ADS). ADS Immediate Past Chair Lydia Tang will share insights on using a screen reader when viewing the Internet Archive’s user interface and WARCs. We will also hear about her experience using different tools to check for accessibility compliance. Please stay tuned to the Web Archiving Section’s Twitter (https://twitter.com/WebArch_RT) for details.

Accessibility Fundamental Bootcamp Training

May 20th, 12-3pm EST

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Deque is offering a free basic accessibility fundamentals bootcamp training session on Thursday, May 20th from 12:00-3:00PM ET.

Articles and Recordings:

Who’s Missing from EDI Advocacy?: Examining the Barriers for Librarians with Invisible Disabilities

A recording and presentation materials from this session, presented at ACRL 2021 by Samantha Huntington Peter, Katelyn Quirin Manwiller, Megan Toops, Debbie Krahmer, and Michele Santamaria, is available online at: https://uwyo.figshare.com/articles/presentation/Who_s_Missing_from_EDI_Advocacy_Examining_the_Barriers_for_Librarians_with_Invisible_Disabilities/14485086/1

College Language Association Journal, special issue on Blackness and Disability

Therí Alyce Pickens guest edited the March 2021 issue of the CLA Journal, which is available online here: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/44225 . Articles include On Fits, Starts, and Entry Points: The Rise of Black Disability Studies (Anna Hinton), No Crips Allowed: Magical Negroes, Black Superheroes, And the Hyper-Abled Black Male Body In Steven Spielberg’s Amistad and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (Charles I. Nero), and Black Autism: A Conversation with Diana Paulin (Julia Miele Rodas and Diana Paulin).

Other Items of Interest:

The Accessibility and Disability Section is looking for candidates interested in running for a position on the A&DS steering committee! Terms are for two years, and you must be a member of both SAA and the A&D Section. Nominations must be received by May 28th, and can be submitted here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd1teS400nf-lv–RkUBnOMsYzFakRcess3yrIgeBJAObvwtQ/viewform

The SAA Mentoring Program is seeking volunteer mentees who may be interested in participating in the pilot Accessibility & Disability cohort program. Cohorts will be active from June – November 2021. Apply to be a Mentee by submitting this application by May 14. If you have any questions about this pilot program, contact the Mentoring Program Subcommittee at saamentoring@gmail.com.

Dr. Lydia Tang, on behalf of the Accessibility & Disability Section, has been awarded a $3,200 SAA Foundation grant to outsource captioning pre-2020 SAA Education webinars. More on this exciting news to come!!

A&DS News and Event Roundup – April 2021

Our monthly “Roundup” series features articles, upcoming events, and other items of interest to Section membership. If you have suggestions for items for next month’s A&DS Roundup, please email us at adsectionblogSAA at gmail dot com.

Upcoming Talks and Learning Opportunities:

Webinar: Core Concepts of Accessibility in Archives

Monday, April 26, 2021 from 10am-11am PST

Instructor: Dr. Lydia Tang

Accessibility must be designed into programs and workflows, and there are many ways that archivists can actively improve accessibility for everyone.

The Core Concepts of Accessibility in Archives webinar will include: 

  • An overview of the Society of American Archivists’ Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities
  • Guidance on how to survey physical and digital spaces for accessibility barriers
  • Brief demonstration of screen readers accessing digital archival materials and databases
  • Examples of how these Guidelines can be applied to repositories

The cost is $10 for SCA members; $5 for student members; $20 for non-members; and $5 for unemployed or precariously employed individuals. All registrants will receive a link to the webinar recording after the webinar is completed.

An Afternoon with Keah Brown: Perspectives on the Intersections of Black, Queer, and Disability Identity and Navigating Life as a College Student and Beyond

April 1, 2021 at 4pm PST

Keah Brown is an actress, journalist, author, and screenwriter. She is the creator of #DisabledAndCute. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire UK, And The New York Times, among other publications. Her Debut essay collection, The Pretty One is out now. Her debut picture book, Sam’s Super Seats will be out in 2022 via Koklia books.

Join the Disability Programs and Resource Center, the Black Unity Center, and DREAM SFSU for this exciting conversation. ASL/captioning provided.

3rd Annual Autism at Work Research Workshop

April 20-22, 2021, 11am-2pm PST (registration deadline: April 9, 2021)

The Autism at Work Research Workshop brings together leading scholars, employers, clinicians, service providers, entrepreneurs, caregivers, and autism advocates concerned with autism employment. Their work may relate to the preparation, recruitment, persistence, advancement, and management of autistic individuals in the workplace. Our objectives are to

  1. Build a community of people concerned with issues related to the preparation and employment of autistic individuals and convey these concerns to the others in the community
  2. Offer opportunities to connect practitioners with researchers to develop or evaluate supports for the employment of autistic individuals
  3. Provide a collaborative space for scholars to share their work and receive constructive feedback in order to advance autism employment research
  4. Further develop a research agenda to advance evidence-based practices to equitably include individuals with autism in the workplace

Microsoft Ability Summit

May 5-6, 2021, 9am-12:30pm PST

The Microsoft Ability Summit is a two-day, free digital event experience that brings together people with disabilities, allies, and accessibility professionals to Imagine, Build, Include, and Empower the future of disability inclusion and accessibility.

2021 Microsoft Ability Summit will feature:

  • Keynotes from Microsoft executives and notable members of the disability community
  • Expert panels featuring exciting projects and innovations
  • Demos of the latest accessibility features in Office, Windows, Xbox, and more
  • All sessions will be recorded and available post-event so no matter what time zone you are in, you can access the content at a time that works for you!

News and Articles:

“We Need to Talk About How We Talk About Disability: A Critical Quasi-Systematic Review” by Amelia Gibson, Kristen Bowen, and Dana Hanson

“This quasi-systematic review uses a critical disability framework to assess definitions of disability, use of critical disability approaches, and hierarchies of credibility in LIS research between 1978 and 2018. We present quantitative and qualitative findings about trends and gaps in the research, and discuss the importance of critical and justice-based frameworks for continued development of a liberatory LIS theory and practice.”

“Neurodiverse Applicants are Revolutionizing the Hiring Process”, Quartz at Work, Alexandra Ossola

Requires an account with Quartz (free trial is available)

Other Items of Interest:

Call for Fellowship Applications: Jaipreet Virdi 2021 Fellowship for Disability Studies – Medical Heritage Library

The Medical Heritage Library seeks a motivated fellow to assist in the continuing development of our education and outreach programs. Under the guidance of a member of our governance board, the fellow will develop curated collections or sets for the MHL website on the topic of disability and medical technologies. Examples of existing primary source sets can be found on the MHL website: http://www.medicalheritage.org/resource-sets/.  These collections will be drawn from the over 300,000 items in our Internet Archive library. The curated collections provide a means for our visitors to discover the richness of MHL materials on a variety of topics relevant to the history of health and the health sciences. As part of this work, the fellow will have an opportunity to enrich metadata in MHL records in Internet Archive to support scholarship and inquiry on this topic.

This paid ($20/hour not to exceed $3000) fellowship will be hosted virtually, with no in-person component. The fellowship will take place anytime between the end of May 2021-mid-August 2021. 150 hours, over 12 weeks with a maximum of 20 hours in any given week. For more details and application instructions, see: http://www.medicalheritage.org/2021/03/11/call-for-fellowship-applications-jaipreet-virdi-2021-fellowship-for-disability-studies/

Western History Disability Studies and Disabled Scholar Award

The purpose of the Western History Disability Studies and Disabled Scholar Award is to promote the place of disability and all of the ramifications that disability, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion have had in the history of the North American West. It is important to promote and support scholars who study this history, whether these scholars have a disability or not. To read more on the significance and vibrancy of Disability Studies, see Disability Studies and History below.

Two $500 awards, funded by independent blind historian Alida Boorn, will support two graduate student who either are working in the fields of disability studies and western history OR identify as disabled and who wish to attend the WHA conference with financial assistance. Funding from the award will assist their ability to research and present academic papers and network with other scholars at the annual WHA conferences.

Deadline is July 15, 2021. See their website for additional details: https://www.westernhistory.org/awards/disability

“New inclusive feature in Microsoft Teams and More”

This blog post covers new accessibility features in Microsoft Teams, including Dynamic View: “With more important calls, meetings and events happening virtually, it’s important to make sure everyone can participate easily, including people with disabilities. We are happy to announce Dynamic view, which intelligently arranges the elements of your meeting for an optimal viewing experience, is coming soon to Commercial and GCC customers. As people join, turn on video, start to speak, or begin to present in a meeting, Teams auto-adjusts and personalizes your layout. For instance, with Dynamic view, meeting attendees who are deaf can pin a sign language interpreter, fit the interpreter’s video to frame, and see the interpreter alongside shared content throughout the meeting.”

Reminder! Accessibility and Disability Section Mentoring Program

A reminder that the Accessibility and Disability Section sponsors a mentoring program, open to any archival workers and students who share an interest or identity relating to disability and accessibility and an interest in the archival field. You do not need to be a member of SAA to sign up. For more details, including a link to the sign up sheet, please see this previous blog post: https://adsarchivists.home.blog/2020/12/16/introducing-the-accessibility-disability-sections-mentoring-sign-up-sheet/

Accessible Digital Documentary Heritage (UNESCO)

Earlier this month, UNESCO published Accessible Digital Documentary Heritage: Guidelines for the Preparation of Documentary Heritage in Accessible Formats for Persons with Disabilities. This 21-page report focuses on “the right to access to documentary heritage by persons with disabilities.”

As noted in the report’s Forward, written by UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu, “The advent of digital cultural archives and collections has spurred significant advancement in global access to culture, including through digitization. This has profoundly enhanced our cultural experience, not only in terms of production, dissemination and new technology-based access, but also in terms of participation and creation, as well as learning and participating in knowledge societies. As the UN agency that fosters the creation of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all, UNESCO believes that the advantages of digitization should be enjoyed equally by persons with disabilities.”

In the report, UNESCO examines the accessibility of its own Memory of the World website. This examination looks at website navigation, colors and contrast, links, images, and forms. Ultimately, the report states “the Memory of the World Register website has some basic accessibility features, nevertheless, the website
itself needs to be re-designed to make it more useable and accessible for people of all abilities, while the website’s content (items in the register, images, documents, etc.) should be adapted with better awareness of digital accessibility issues.” The way in which these components are examined directly connects to the guidelines found in the third section of the report.

In the final section of the report, 14 guidelines are divided into two categories – basic guidelines and advanced guidelines. The basic guidelines include a number of critical overall considerations, such as:

  • Consider accessibility at every step of document digitization, rather than fixing accessibility issues post hoc.
  • Plan to allocate sufficient resources for accessibility.
  • Involve persons with disabilities and/or accessibility experts in the process.

The advanced guidelines focus more on how to make specific types of materials accessible. These include:

  • Digital images should be accompanied by a text description of their subject’s key features (content and form) and should be captured with the highest resolution possible.
  • PDF documents should be screen-readable.
  • Videos should be accompanied by captions or sign language interpretation, as well as audio description.

Overall, this report provides a summary of many issues that inhibit accessibility of digital content. The report – and specifically the case study of the Memory of the World website – provides a solid framework for others wishing to examine their digital collections and web presence to ensure materials are accessible.

A&D Section Roundup – December 2020

The “Roundup” series is published on the first of each month. It features articles, upcoming events, and other items of interest to Section membership. If you have suggestions for items for next month’s A&DS Roundup, please email us at adsectionblogSAA at gmail dot com.

Webinars and other learning opportunities:

In Our Own Words: Deaf Perspectives in Oral History and Public History

Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 6-7pm EST (free, but requires registration)

Sponsored by the National Council on Public History, the Drs. John S. & Betty J. Schuchman Deaf Documentary Center at Gallaudet University, the Public History Program at American University, and the Oral History Association.

This program – a 1 hour Zoom conversation – brings Deaf people into this conversation, both as individuals sharing their experiences and as collaborators throughout the curation/interpretation process. In particular, the panelists will address how oral history interviews should be handled when interviewing Deaf community members. What are some considerations when planning and conducting Deaf oral histories? How can Deaf perspectives, storytelling culture, and interviewing practices push oral history beyond the approaches that bias the hearing/aural? How can oral historians and public historians incorporate or center Deaf narratives in public engagement, particularly when documenting and creating programming about this current moment?

This program is free, but registration is required (click here to register). Please also note the program will be recorded and shared.

Archivists with Disabilities Follow Up

Thursday, December 10, 2020 at 3pm EST (free but requires registration)

The Education Subcommittee of the SAA Accessibility and Disability Section would like to invite you to a follow-up of the SAA Annual Meeting Session “Archivists with Disabilities” on December 10, 3 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. CST. The original panel would like to answer questions that they were unable to during the conference, then have a discussion with the wider audience. We will be using SAA’s Zoom account, which will include closed captioning, however you do not have to be a member of SAA to attend the event. Presenters include Veronica Denison, Michelle Ganz, Chris Tanguay, and Zachary Tumlin. Unfortunately, original panelist, Ann Abney, is unable to attend.

In case you are not a member of SAA, were unable to attend the session, or would like to re-watch the presentation, it is now available for everyone to view. During the presentation, speakers discussed invisible and visible disabilities, adult onset or diagnosis of a disability, disclosing a disability, accommodations, and how to be an ally for your coworkers.

Please note that the event will not be recorded as we want everyone to feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their experiences. You are also welcome to anonymously submit any questions or topics you would like discussed during the event.

If interested, you can register here for this one-hour event. If you have any questions, please email Veronica Denison at vldenison@ksu.edu.

Disclose This! Advancing Disability Awareness in Libraries and Archives (recording)

A recording is now available from the October 16th panel discussion “Disclose This!: Advancing Disability Awareness in Libraries and Archives.” The discussion was hosted by the Archival Workers Emergency Fund, and participants included Jasmine Clark, chair of the DLF Digital Accessibility Working Group; Michelle Ganz, chair of the SAA Accessibility & Disability Section; and Karina Hagelin, activist and organizer. Panelists discussed advancing disability awareness and representation in libraries and archives.

Other Items of Interest:

Call for Volunteers for Appointed Positions in SAA

The Society of American Archivists has issued its official call for volunteers for appointed positions within the organization. If you’re interested, please complete the self-nomination form before January 15, 2021. Additionally, a Q&A forum will be held with SAA VP Courtney Chartier, members of the Appointments Committee, and recent SAA appointed leaders on Wednesday, December 9th at 2pm EST. Register for that session here and learn more about how you can get involved in these types of roles within SAA.

Disability History Association Fall 2020 Conference Award

The Disability History Association invites applications for the Fall 2020 Conference Award. This award is intended to help cover costs for conferences attended between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. This award is open to graduate students and contingent faculty, as well as underemployed, unemployed, or community-based scholars and artists. The DHA is particularly interested in supporting those who will receive limited or no support from other sources, including their home institutions. Applicants must be presenting on a topic directly related to disability history at a conference occurring between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Eligible conferences may be either in-person or virtual. The award may cover travel, registration, or the cost of academic memberships required to attend the conference. Depending on demand, demonstrated need, and the availability of funds, award amounts may range from $100 to $300.

Applicants must write a letter of between 1-2 pages describing what conference they will be attending, the nature of their participation in the conference, and the significance of conference attendance for their career and the advancement of the field. They should also include a brief budget indicating expected costs, and how the award will help them cover these costs. If they are applying for or have received other funds to help defray the cost of attendance, applicants should indicate this in either their letter or budget.

Please submit applications to Dr. Caroline Lieffers at clieffers@gmail.com by December 15, 2020.

Library Juice Certificate in Disability Access and Inclusion

Library Juice Academy is now offering a Certificate in Disability Access and Inclusion which will “develop your understanding of accessibility and disability, and provide you with practices to proactively include and equitably serve patrons and staff with a range of disabilities.” You can learn more about the classes offered and the certificate program on their website: https://libraryjuiceacademy.com/certificate/disability-access-and-inclusion/.

Call for Program Proposals for 2021 SAA Annual Meeting

The SAA Program Committee invites proposals for sessions to be presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting. As you develop your session proposal, they encourage you to consider the following questions: “How might we, as archivists, rethink our work environments, our practices, and our profession to strengthen the ways in which we work and stay in community? How can we foster a professional culture that is innovative and that continually reevaluates itself? Where can we do better? How do we initiate, and advocate for, positive change in our institutions and communities? How can we come together more effectively as an archival community to support our shared values?”

Proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting are due on Wednesday, January 13, at 11:59 CT. Learn more here: https://www2.archivists.org/am2021/program/call-for-program-proposals.

Spotlight: Apple iOS and Accessibility

This is the first in our new blog series titled “Spotlight.” The “Spotlight” series will feature case studies, interviews, and other stories about accessibility and disability guidelines, resources, and tools that may be of interest to A&DS members as well as to the archival community as a whole. We will publish a “Spotlight” on the 15th of each month. If you have ideas or suggestions for future “Spotlight” posts, please email us at adsectionblogSAA at gmail dot com.

This month’s Spotlight is written by Michelle Ganz, archives director at McDonough Innovation and chair of the Accessibility and Disability Section. In this post, Michelle looks at accessibility features in Apple iOS.

Apple iOS and Accessibility by Michelle Ganz

Apple has touted its commitment to accessibility since 2012. I’ve been an Apple user since the iPhone 3 in 2007. I would like to briefly review the functions that I have used and give you an honest assessment. Please remember that this is my experience and may not be yours, I also use many of the features but not all of them. I have an iPhone XS running iOS14.2

I have an issue with how buried these settings are. You have to know where to go to find what you need. This extra layer of research required is strange considering how many of these accommodations are written about as ‘fun things you can do with your phone’ articles. 

Apple addresses four types of disability with their optional settings: Vision, Physical/Motor, Hearing. I have found all of the categories to have features I use. 


From the main accessibility menu you can make general adjustments under each heading or drill down to more options. 


The options for vision include audio description, motion control, and adjustments to the voice your phone uses. I always switch to Bold font to make it easier to read smaller fonts. 

Physical/ Motor: 

These options all relate to how you interact with your phone including different ways to control your keyboard, touch ID sensitivity, and how faceID works. In this section I have changed the side buttons to open my hearing aid app, and set backtap to open my control panel where I can adjust my hearing aids. 


For the deaf and hard of hearing there are options to use captioning phones, how the audio is adjusted, and visual alerts which give you a series of flashing lights to alert you. 

In addition to their previously standard feature, Apple introduced a new feature called Sound Recognition that’s a great idea but doesn’t work well for me in practice. The idea is that your phone can alert you to a variety of sounds like sirens, fire alarms, door knocks, and water running. In practice these features don’t work well. I get alerts when someone sets something down on a table, but not when they knock on the door. It alerts me to water running when I am standing at the sink, but not when I leave it running after I walk away.  I suspect that as it ‘learns’ it will get better. With any brand new feature there’s a period between initial release and software patches to make the future fully functional. 


Apple offers a lot of integrated functionality between the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Watch connectivity means I can feel my alerts, which works a lot better than audio alerts. There is a lot of customizability to really make your iPhone work for you. 


The hearing aids I use are specifically designed to work with Apple phones which means I am ‘tied’ to Apple; my hearing aids use a different bluetooth frequency to connect; as opposed to connecting as a bluetooth device. iOS13 ‘broke’ my hearing aids. They refused to acknowledge it and then claimed it would be fixed in the next software update. It was not. iOS14 fixed the worst of the problems like dropping calls and randomly burning through the batteries. But it’s still making all sorts of noises it’s not supposed to. 

For all the issues that I have with iOS accessibility it still really is pretty great. They could be doing a lot better, but the idea (and intention) is a good one. I’m not sure I would switch from another hearing aid manufacturer or move to a different type of phone because of the problems I have, but I’m not sure I would have made my choice solely on the iPhone compatibility if I knew how many issues there would be. I like finding new ways to use the features and seeing what new ideas they come up with.

New blog series! A&DS Roundup

Beginning today, we will be publishing our new “A&DS Roundup” series every month on the first of the month (sorry it’s a bit late this month!). The “Roundup” series will feature articles, upcoming events, and other items of interest to Section membership. If you have suggestions for items for next month’s A&DS Roundup, please email us at adsectionblogSAA at gmail dot com.

Calls for Papers/Presentations/Participation:

Reserve + Renew: The LIS Mental Health Zine is seeking submissions for the fourth issue, The Plague Year. Contributions are welcome from anyone involved in “big tent” librarianship, archives, or museums: if you work or volunteer in a library or archive or museum (currently or formerly), if you’re working towards a library degree, or are otherwise involved in library or GLAM-related work, we want to hear from you.

For additional details see http://lismentalhealth.org/reserve-and-renew-zine/. Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2020.

Upcoming Talks and Learning Opportunities:

November 12, 12:30pm EST: Breaking with Tradition: Creating Connections in the Archives with New Types of Access
Presented by Rachael Cristine Woody with Bridgett Kathryn Pride

Abstract: When the general public is introduced to the archives it’s often an intimidating experience. Our ceremony of white gloves, use of expensive boxes, and enforcement of heavily restricted collections access all serve to intimidate and dissuade new users. Whether we intend to or not, archivists are sending the message that they are the gatekeepers of the collection and only “serious business” can be conducted with the collections. So, how do we break that messaging down? How can we serve up the collections in a way that is not only inviting, but inspirational? Rachael Woody is teaming up with Bridgett Kathryn Pride to talk about breaking down archival barriers, empowering novice users, and creating points of access to collections through artful guidance.

Register: https://rachaelcristine.mykajabi.com/breaking-with-tradition-registration-page

November 18, 3pm EST/1pm MST: ADA Compliance Wins for Digital Library Spaces (InfoPeople)

In this webinar you will learn about web accessibility fundamentals for ADA compliance from a working specialist in the field. You will discover how to tie digital accessibility and ADA compliance in with other principles of design (UDL) to create the best and most seamless programming experience possible. Making your documents, presentations, and PDFs accessible online will set you up for further success, and it’s easier than you think.

For more information and to register, visit: https://infopeople.org/training/view/webinar

News and Articles:

COVID-19, Accessibility, and Libraries: A Call to Action,” by JJ Pionke in College and Research Libraries News, vol. 81, no. 8 (Sept 2020).

Other Items of Interest:

On October 12, the Digital Library Federation’s Digital Accessibility Working Group hosted a webinar led by Sina Bahram on “Inclusive Design and Accessible Exhibits: Some Guidance for Libraries, Galleries, and Museums.” The recording is available on the DLF YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV-V3pttNDM.

“What We Don’t Have: Confronting the Absence of Diversity in University Archives” from Carnegie Mellon University. This online exhibit critically explores the silences in the university archives at CMU. As the exhibit notes, “With this exhibit, we aim to expose our work and explore the absences in the University Archives – the voices and experiences we know are missing. These are stories that people are looking for, and we are unable to tell. We recognize that these are not the only gaps in our collections, and we acknowledge that the gaps represent members of our community who have been silenced.”

The University of British Columbia’s Geography department is hosting a series of webinars titled “The Voices of Access and Disability in Higher Education.” The first two videos – Defining Access and Identifying Barriers and Opportunities for Change – are available to watch now on their YouTube channel.

If you have ideas for other blog series or posts, please let us know! Email us at adsectionblogSAA at gmail dot com. We hope to continue to learn and grow together.

SAA Council Statement on Black Lives and Archives

On June 2, 2020, the SAA Council stated:

“We, the Council of the Society of American Archivists, unanimously condemn harassment and violence against the Black community. As archivists, we learn from history that this country was founded on genocide and slavery. We continue to witness the legacy of this history with systemic and structural racism that lead to marginalization, disenfranchisement, and death. The murder of George Floyd, and countless others, at the hands of the police manifest the continuing atrocities faced by Black Americans today. As a profession, we stand by our community and acknowledge, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter.”

Read the full statement on the SAA website. Additional resources provided in the SAA Council statement are listed below. For further anti-racist actions archivists can take, consider reading the AWE Fund Organizing Committee open letter to the archival community.

DocNow: Ethical Considerations for Archiving Social Media Content Generated by Contemporary Social Movements: Challenges, Opportunities, and Recommendations

WITNESS: Community-Based Approaches to Archives From the Black Lives Matter Movement

COVID-19 Resources and Information

Last updated March 19, 2020

Working From Home Resources

Archivists at Home began as brainstorming advocacy tool by the Accessibility & Disability Section of the Society of American Archivists for developing a more flexible concept of archival labor, whether it is archivists working from home due to COVID-19 or archivists with disabilities. The document has evolved in scope to address needs of the archival community grappling with COVID-19 broadly, ranging from the workplace, choosing to temporarily close an archives, to working from home, and notes on supporting student and contingent workers.

Archives Workers Emergency Fund (AWEF) is organizing support and mutual aid for contingent archival workers who may be affected by COVID-19, have limited workplace protections or sick time, and may suffer the loss of hours and income as institutions close, reduce hours, and move to remote work in response to the spread of the virus.

The Green Mountain Self-Advocates produced a plain-language booklet on COVID-19. It was created by and for people with disabilities and is shared by the Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center. A Spanish translation of the COVID-19 booklet is also available.

Disability Scoop reported on “unique [COVID-19] concerns for caregivers and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Mental Health

General Resources

Managing Anxiety

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The International OCD Foundation has compiled resources for dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and COVID-19. For parents, the site also shares information on talking to kids about COVID-19.


For those unable to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, there is a google document compiling online AA Meetings.

Medical Care and Family Resources

The American Association of People with Disabilities has written about insurance restrictions and prescription drugs and the challenges people with disabilities are now facing to get necessary medication.

More information from the Administration for Community Living, including information for older adults and for disability networks.

A Case Study For Assessing Special Collections Spaces Using SAA Guidelines for Accessible Archives For People With Disabilities

Lindy Smith, Head of LaBudde Special Collections, University of Missouri-Kansas City

I started work as Head of LaBudde Special Collections at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) on August 1, 2019. UMKC is a mid-sized public university that is part of a larger state-wide system and located in an urban environment. Like many public universities, we have limited funding available for facilities. Our library building is over 50 years old, though the special collections reading room, collection storage, and staff areas have been remodeled over the course of the past decade, give or take a few years. The following is an informal assessment of our spaces that I have conducted using the Physical Environment section of the SAA Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities and some of the changes we have made or plan to make in the near future.

Physical Environment

Buildings and Grounds

SAA: At least one door should have automatic openers and should be wide enough (i.e. 36 inches) to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters.

UMKC: The library building has multiple accessible entrances, but the special collections reading room does not. We are closed off from the rest of the third floor and visitors must open one of a set of two large doors to gain entrance. Each of the two double doors is exactly 36”. The opening is about a half inch less because of the frame, but should still accommodate nearly all users. The doors are moderately heavy, automatically close, and require constant resistance to keep open. They are not easy to manage for someone with limited mobility or strength, in a wheelchair, or a staff member trying to navigate with a book truck full of collection materials. I have requested an automatic opener for our reading room and it is on the list of projects to be completed when we have available funding.

SAA: Eliminate obstacles that could be tripping hazards for people with sight disabilities or who use scooters/wheelchairs.

UMKC: We recently rearranged all of the furniture to allow for better sight lines from our desk and better collection security. All of our tables have built in power outlets, so we made sure we could still provide power. One table would require running a cord across the floor, so we have requested a cord cover to help mitigate it as a tripping hazard. We also made sure to leave as much space as possible between chairs (50” when pushed in) to allow for accessibility throughout the space.

SAA: Aisles/stacks should be wide enough (i.e. 36 inches minimum and 42 inches preferred) to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters. If they are not wide enough for wheelchairs to turn around (i.e. 48 inches), they should be open at both ends to prevent the need to back up for long distances.

UMKC: We do not have any publicly accessible stacks in the special collections space. We do have some wall mounted shelving but there is sufficient space around it for members of the public. Closed stacks areas all have at least 36” of clearance. They are only open at one end, but are not very long. This is an issue to address if we ever have the chance to reconfigure that space, but it would reduce our storage capacity and be prohibitively expensive to correct now.

SAA: If a public elevator is not available, visitors should be permitted to use employee elevators while accompanied by an employee.

UMKC: There are four elevators visitors can use to access our space: two in the library and two in an adjoining classroom building that has a direct link to our floor. This is not true of every floor in the building, so we are very lucky to be located where we are.

SAA: Bathrooms should have wheelchair-accessible toilets and sinks as well as proper disposal containers for medical and personal hygiene.

UMKC: We have two sets of public restrooms on our floor: one in the library (men and women) and one in the adjoining classroom building (men, women, and family/gender neutral). All offer accessible stalls and sinks. Waste disposal is a little trickier. Stalls in the women’s restrooms do have designated bins for hygiene items, but stalls in the men’s do not. Restroom trashcans are limited to only recyclable paper towel disposal.

SAA: Signage should be in large print, with high contrast between letters and backgrounds.

Signs should be printed on non-glare surfaces. Whenever possible, Braille should be included in standardized locations.

UMKC: All permanent library signage is in large print with high contrast and we have room numbers in Braille outside doors. Directional signage on our floor is on non-glare surfaces but the sign that identifies the reading room is shiny and silver. I plan to investigate additional options to identify the space.

SAA: Manually operated compact shelving should be avoided unless it is possible to ensure that someone with a disability can turn the crank arms. Electrically operated compact shelving is recommended.

UMKC: We have an automated storage and retrieval system (high density storage with a robot that retrieves and delivers stored materials to operator stations). Some computer stations do require the user to stand to both manage requests and retrieve the materials, some only required the user to stand to access the materials. Because of the nature of the system, we cannot change how it operates. We would have to provide an accommodation to staff members who could not stand or climb a ladder to retrieve items.

SAA: Flooring should comply with archival facility guidelines endorsed by the SAA, 14 such as sealed concrete, low-pile carpet or carpet tiles, or sealed wood floors.

UMKC: All floors are low-pile carpet tiles, sealed concrete, or smooth hard tiles.

SAA: Venues should be smoke-free and fragrance-free out of consideration for people who are sensitive to smells.

UMKC: We are a smoke free campus. We do not use any environmental fragrances, but employees are not prohibited from wearing fragrances or using fragranced products like fabric softeners or personal care products.

SAA: Venues should have zoned temperature and humidity controls which balance the preservation of the collections and the comfort of employees and visitors.

UMKC: This is an ongoing struggle. I am sure many readers can relate! It is generally comfortable for users in our reading room, but we have been dealing with improper temperatures in both collection spaces and staff offices. Both we and campus facilities are taking this seriously and it will hopefully be fixed soon.

Reading Room

SAA: The reference desk should be designed to flexibly accommodate both researchers and employees. At least a portion of the desk should be at a lower height to enable people using wheelchairs to interact with employees at eye level. If the desk is not accessible, an employee should meet the researcher in a more accessible location within the room.

Consider having dual screens at the reference computer so that a researcher can follow what the employee is doing. Enable communicating via chat if needed.

UMKC: We do have a lower portion of our desk. We also have one computer with a dual screen so we can demonstrate searching and browsing for users. We are in the process of implementing limited chat services where we wouldn’t have a separate account, but would be available to accept transferred requests from our main reference department.

SAA: Chairs should be height and ergonomically adjustable and mobile. Provide a variety of chair sizes and styles to accommodate all visitors.

At least one reading room table should be height adjustable.

UMKC: We only have one model each of chairs and tables in our reading room. They are not height adjustable. We have another model of chairs available in the space, but they do not have accompanying tables. This is a need to consider for the future. Currently furniture is only a few years old, lightly used, and we would not be able to make a good argument for replacing it at this time.

SAA: Consider providing an extra wheelchair or other mobility tools for visitors to borrow on site.

UMKC: This is not something we currently offer in special collections, but it might be something we could offer library-wide.

Overall, I think we have addressed many, but not all, of the Guidelines. Of those that remain, there are some that cannot easily be changed and will always require accommodations, some that can and are being easily fixed, and some that we can work to remedy over the next few years. I hope this has inspired you to take a look at your spaces and see what small or large changes you can make to improve the experience of your staff or researchers with disabilities.


Michelle Ganz, co-chair for the Accessibility and Disability Section steering committee, shares an appreciation for her allies in navigating life as a hard-of hearing individual:

“We talk a lot about allies and what they do. But we don’t really talk specifics ever. I realized the other day that my allies (and I am fortunate to have more than one in my life) do so much more than just help me do things. So, I wanted to share some of the things that my able-bodied partner/allies do that really help me out.

He/they pay attention to the environments we go into and asks how I am periodically (especially if there’s a lot of white noise). If I look like I’m overwhelmed or unable to actively participate they offer to go somewhere else (rather than make me ask if it’s ok to leave).

If we’re in a restaurant and I’ve clearly not heard a question from the waitstaff, they’ll say something like she’s hard of hearing so please ask her again.

They explain what hard of hearing versus deaf is to people. My partner explains how hearing aids help/work and what they don’t do. And he explains that disability doesn’t mean can’t, it just means different. They do this a lot when I’m not around (which keeps me from being an exhibit to be examined). They also does it when I clearly don’t want to go through the ‘speech’ again.

The thing is, I am perfectly capable of navigating daily life. But it’s exhausting. And it’s All The Time. And some days I just don’t have the desire to be The Teacher. Having someone to help out is great. Having someone who talks about disability like it’s not big deal is awesome.

Our allies do a lot for us, even when we don’t see the help. They help make disability just another part of being who we are; not the only thing about us. Being an advocate is heavy work, knowing that the work is shared makes it easier.

I’d like to thank the people in the section that are abled-allies. I’m glad you’re here.”