Library Services


Making Library Services accessible for everyone

1 December 2021

As many will be aware, it is UK Disability History Month and 3 December marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We're using this opportunity to highlight some of the actions across Library Services to improve the accessibility of our study spaces and services.

UCL's Portico and steps

UCL Library Services is committed to ensuring that students, staff and visitors are not disabled by our services or by the Library environment.

Accessible Formats

We continue to work with our colleagues in Student Support and Wellbeing, ISD (Digital Accessibility Hub), and academic departments to ensure that print disabled students, and other members of our libraries, can access material in our collections.

A person is print disabled if they are unable to access print material to the same extent as others due to sight loss, learning difference (such as dyslexia), or physical disability.

Teaching and Learning Services ensure that all digitised readings on Moodle are accessible via text-to-speech software, but where other items from UCL collections are required, the Accessibility team will either:

  • Obtain an accessible copy via RNIB Bookshare.
  • Convert an existing digital copy into an accessible format via Sensus Access.
  • Contact the publisher directly to obtain an accessible digital copy.
  • Arrange for the scanning and conversion of the physical book.

A copyright exemption exists for print disabled persons, allowing us to make an accessible copy of an entire text from our collections where this is required.

Click and Collect and Item Fetching

Library Services acknowledge that due to the age and design of some buildings, parts of our collection are stored in areas that are not fully accessible to everybody.

Using the Click and Collect service, our Customer Service teams will fetch material from these collections in advance, and will move this material to an accessible location for collection. Where the Click-and-Collect service is not available, or where an item is required immediately, colleagues at the Help Points will fetch material on an ad hoc basis whenever possible.

Access for Support Workers

The Accessibility and Membership teams will arrange library access for support workers, study assistants and carers whenever this is required. Please contact the Accessibility Team for more information.

D/deaf and hard of hearing resources and support

UCL Library Services is proud of its long-standing association with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), and we hold their collection of materials on hearing loss, deafness and people with hearing impairments.

Since the closure of the UCL Ear Institute and Action on Hearing Loss Libraries in 2020, the rare book and archive collections owned by RNID have been transferred to the stewardship of UCL Special Collections, and remain available for consultation by members of UCL, UCLH and the wider public. Other parts of the collection are held at our offsite store and can be requested.

Related collections in audiology and ENT are held at the Language & Speech Science Library and Cruciform Hub, who deliver services in support of teaching, research and clinical practice that were previously provided by the libraries in Gray’s Inn Road.

We are committed to equipping library staff with the knowledge and skills to provide an excellent customer experience and have recently run a series of deaf awareness training events to enhance our services to D/deaf and hard of hearing people.

Building Accessibility and Reasonable Adjustments

We provide current and accurate information regarding the accessibility of our library buildings via the Accessibility webpage, with detailed specifications also available via AccessAble.

The Accessibility webpage also outlines some of the reasonable adjustments used by the Accessibility team to remove barriers to the use of our services and the study environment. This list is not exhaustive, and we consider the needs of every member of Library Services on an individual basis.