by Mark McCree, Chair, Share the Vision
In 2020, Share The Vision, a coalition of UK organisations that work together to improve the quality, availability and accessibility of library services for people with a vision or print impairment, revised the ‘Six Steps’ Promise, which sits alongside the Libraries Connected Universal Library Offers.
Fundamentally, the core principles and practical steps within the promise didn’t need to change. However, embedded detail had to be updated, and partners felt that the title of the promise needed to more direct and literally reflect the purpose and people at its heart.
It is fair to say, that the landscape for those with sight loss and/or a print impairment has improved in recent years, with the growth of accessible content and technology; but the challenges still remain. The basic fact is that if you have issues with your sight or struggle to read standard print for whatever reason, the range of reading available to you is significantly compromised, and you will likely have problems accessing library services in an equitable, easy or enjoyable way.
Share The Vision annually highlights, via HiVIS fortnight (formerly known as ‘Make A Noise in Libraries’ – another name change!), the great services and activities that take place to make libraries more accessible. This celebration will take place again in 2021, on 7 – 20 June. It is crucial though that we keep the needs of those who are blind, or partially sighted, or have a disability that prevents them reading general formats, in our minds as an integral part of our plans and developments.
To this end, Share The Vision and The Ulverscroft Foundation have established a three year strategic partnership, which will launch this year. The core aims being:
- To increase library staff understanding of the needs of people who are blind or have a vision-impairment, and the challenges they face in accessing library services
- To improve awareness among blind and vision-impaired people about the range of library services on offer
- To support the development and accessibility of these services and increase their take-up.
Some practical opportunities and resources will emerge from this partnership in due course to assist local libraries and staff. If you would like to keep up to date on this and our other work, please sign up for the Reading Sight newsletter.
In the meantime, please re-familiarise yourself with the promise; re-commit to delivering on the six steps within it; and reflect on what you can do to make reading and libraries a universally accessible experience.