CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Accessibility and Neurodiversity – Resources for Libraries and Librarians

The CILIPS logo with a background photograph of sunflowers

Background photo thanks to Bonnie Kittle at Unsplash. Sunflowers are sometimes used as a symbol to remind people that not all disabilities are visible, and that genuine accessibility should not be an exception but the norm.

CILIPS is committed to helping ensure that Scottish libraries of every sector are welcoming, accessible and inclusive for all. This evolving collection of resources aims to support library staff and communities, to help make sure that libraries have the tools they need to become more accessible, and to offer a starting point for making library collections more truly representative of readers.

If you have any recommendations to add to this page, we would love to hear your suggestions: please email us here.

Accessibility for All

  • ‘These barriers have nothing to do with individual disabled people’s bodies: they are created by people so it is possible to remove them.’ The Social Model of Disability highlights that the difficulties faced by disabled people do not come from their personal circumstances but instead assumptions, prejudices and a lack of consideration from society as a whole. For an easy-to-read, informative summary and examples including a ‘Good Practice Checklist’ for language use, we’d recommend reading this booklet written by Grant Carson for policy and decision makers across all sectors.
  • Disability Information Scotland offers a helpful collection of guides on topics from ‘access and accessibility’ to ‘equality, legal and advocacy’ and much more. The Scottish Disability Directory also allows you to search by topic, location and support needs to find organisations and service providers who can meet your requirements.
  • Disability Equality Scotland is a membership organisation advocating for disabled people: you can become a member, sign-up for their weekly newsletter or share your story and make sure that your opinions on access, equality and inclusion are heard by decision-makers. The organisation recently helped to develop the National Hate Crime Charter, which recognises the right of all people using public transport networks in Scotland to be free from hate crime, prejudice, bullying or harassment, and encourages a zero-tolerance approach to any breach of that right.
  • If you’re looking to enhance your understanding of accessibility and ensure that your own organisation is accessible in practice, Disability Information Scotland’s Online Training area also includes free, self-paced courses on topics like ‘Accessible Information Awareness’ and ‘Hidden Accessibility’. We also appreciated these comprehensive free guides to making resources, publications and websites more accessible, as well as helpful information provided by the Scottish Accessible Information Forum.
  • ‘Libraries are often at the heart of the community and have a reputation for being inclusive and welcoming. I realised that participating in this initiative reinforces how essential our services are…’ South Lanarkshire Libraries’ collaboration with I AM ME Scotland means that their libraries are now designated Safe Spaces in the community, offering signposting and support for anyone who needs it. Click here to read the full case study.

Celebrating Neurodiversity

  • Dyslexia Scotland’s website offers a fantastic array of helpful resources for adults, young people and children with dyslexia, as well as parents and educators. We especially loved the inclusion of a Post-Assessment Pack for Adults as well as the Mission Superheroes programme for schools – and we like the sound (literally) of the Dyslexia Scotland podcast!
  • For an inspirational example of best practice, check out the Au-some activities taking place at Inverclyde Libraries. From Makaton-signed Bookbug sessions to dedicated autism-accessible afternoons and much more, their libraries are doing essential work to become truly accessible for all. Many thanks to Alison Nolan for sharing this blog with us – yet more reasons why #LibrariesAreEssential!
  • Scottish Autism offers online, email and telephone advice, as well as lots of fantastic activities for both adults and children including a lockdown art gallery and online magazine. For our school library community, we also want to highlight The Autism Toolbox: a fantastic free collection of resources for schools to help support their neurodivergent learners.
  • The Autism in Museums website includes a variety of helpful tips and links for all cultural venues – find them here.

Representative Reading Lists

  • The Scottish Book Trust’s Inclusive Stories Festival celebrates stories that put inclusion in the spotlight, with many events designed specifically for young people with additional needs. Click here to see the festival programme or here to watch highlights on the Sensory Storytelling page.
  • Scottish Book Trust have also compiled these fantastic reading lists of books that feature disability and/or neurodiversity – click here for suggestions suitable for age 9-11 or age 12-14.
  • BookTrust’s Bookmark: Disability and Books offers some great recommendations, including their ‘twelve best of 2020’ collection of children’s books that feature positive representations of disability.
  • ‘Why is it important? Because books are the greatest teachers. No, seriously. If there’s a wonderful, plausible character with additional needs in a novel, stereotypes (ahem, I’m looking at you, Mr Blind Man Who Sees Into The Future) will start to get squashed.’ Sixteen-year-old writer and poet Andrew Pettigrew shares five top tips for writers who want to represent disabled characters thoughtfully and free from clichés – we think his advice is essential reading for any non-disabled person who wants to improve their understanding of how to be a better disability ally.
  • This Disability Horizons blog also features a great, varied list of both classic and contemporary books with disabled leading characters. Many of the titles have also been made into films (although we say the book is always better)!
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