Making health information accessible for all: The impact of universal design in public libraries
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBerget, G. (2020). Making health information accessible for all: The impact of universal design in public libraries. Advances in Librarianship, 47,141-157. doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/S0065-283020200000047007 https://doi.org/10.1108/S0065-283020200000047007
On a world basis, 15% of the population has a disability. Having a disability can result in a higher frequency of health-related information needs than other users might experience. The Web represents a widely used source for health information. People with disabilities, however, often encounter barriers during online searching, such as inaccessible information, poorly designed search user interfaces and lack of compatibility with assistive technology. Consequently, many users are potentially excluded from a range of information sources. Measures are therefore needed to remove these barriers to avoid health disparities that can result from unequal access to information. Public libraries have a social responsibility to include all user groups, and should aspire to make fully accessible services. A good tool in this context is the implementation of the universal design mind-set, where the purpose is to develop services that are available to all people. This chapter discusses how universal design can be a premise for equal access to health information and potentially reduce health disparities in the context of users with disabilities. Both library services and education of librarians will be addressed.