Commentary: It’s not just convenient; it’s the law

Kristi Sadowski, Southington Public Library director
sadowskik@southington.org

It is no secret that the Southington Public Library needs to make some major upgrades in order to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

Some of this is due to the physical limitations of the space—such as our elevator with a door clearance of only 34 inches and an inadequate turning radius for powered or larger wheel chairs. Some changes we can begin implementing immediately, such as the installation of ZoomText on each of our 15 public access computers.

ZoomText is an advanced screen magnification program tailored for low-vision users. It enlarges and enhances everything on the computer screen, making the computer easier to see and use. Once you open the program, it allows you to change screen colors and magnification levels, customize the mouse pointer and text cursor to make it easy to find them, and turn on a focus rectangle to help you track where you are on the screen.

We are very excited to be able to offer ZoomText to the community, paid for with funds from the Eli Estate. This software compliments existing vision accessible devices for our public computers which were generously donated by the Southington Persons with Disabilities Commission, and include detachable screen magnifiers and large format keyboards.

ZoomText is highly customizable and some experimentation is required to learn which settings will be best for each user. For further assistance, please see the staff at the reference desk. They are happy to help.

To better serve our patrons’ needs and continue our mission to make library services more accessible to all, other changes have been made—or are planned—for the Southington Library. Moving the large print materials has been a controversial change. Yes, they are slightly farther from the entrances, but no more so than the elevator. However, they are now on full sized shelves rather than lower shelving units which were difficult for browsing.

Providing guidance on the existing building issues, such as the location of the elevator (which is far from the main entrances,) accessibility requirements of restrooms, and the space between the book stacks will be part of the charge to an architectural firm as they evaluate our needs and create solutions for the community.

There have been no major changes or renovations to this building since it opened in 1975. In the subsequent years, there have been substantial changes in accessibility guidelines, including the first signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. We can make small changes now to the Southington Public Library, such as the addition of ZoomText. However, ensuring equal access to all is a pillar of library services—one that is addressed daily by providing free and equal access to our resources and services.

We are dependent on a building project or renovation to ensure our space lives up to those same standards.

As always, if you have suggestions, or needs for our current or future building plans, especially with how we can be more accessible to all, please let us know. You can reach us at SouthingtonPublicLibrary@southington.org or by leaving a note in our suggestion box.

Kristi Sadowski is the director of the Southington Public Library. To learn more, visit them at www.SouthingtonLibrary.com.

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