Library Services


Marking Disability History Month 2022

12 December 2022

December is UK Disability History Month, and 3 December marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We would like to use this opportunity to highlight some of the areas where we are working to improve the accessibility of our library spaces and services.

UCL's Portico and steps

Making Print Materials Accessible

We work with our colleagues in Student Support and Wellbeing, the Digital Accessibility Hub and the academic departments to ensure that print disabled students can access all of the materials in our collections. A person is disabled by the provision of print-only resources if they are unable to access this material to the same extent as others due to visual impairment, physical impairment or a learning difference (such as dyslexia).

A copyright exemption exists for print disabled persons, removing the limits that usually apply when copying books or journals from our collections, providing that we are doing so to make the material accessible.

The Library Accessibility team can make print resources accessible by:

  • Obtaining an accessible digital copy of a book via RNIB Bookshare
  • Contacting the publisher directly to obtain an accessible digital copy.
  • Scanning and converting a physical book into an accessible digital format.

The Library Accessibility team has reviewed over 600 readings for print disabled students since the start of Term One.

Our Teaching and Learning Services team also ensure that digitised readings on Moodle are accessible when using text-to-speech software.

Screen Fatigue

Electronic resources have many advantages over print, but long periods of screen use without rest can cause the muscles in and around our eyes to get tired. This is referred to as screen fatigue.

We have created a screen fatigue webpage that provides some tips and links to assistive technology that can help to reduce the effects of screen-use when reading electronic resources, including text-to-speech software, which removes the need to focus on a screen by reading the text aloud.

Royal National Institute for Deaf People Collections

We are proud of our long-standing association with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People.

We provide access to a varied collection devoted to hearing loss, deafness and people with hearing impairments. The collection consists of books and pamphlets dealing with sign language, the education of deaf people, diseases of the ear, as well as historical and literary works that concern deafness and deaf people.

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 related materials are now held at the Language & Speech Science Library and Cruciform Hub.

Click-and-Collect and Item Fetching

We 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, we will fetch books in advance and move them to an accessible location for collection. Our library teams have processed 11,560 Click and Collect requests since the start of Term One.

Where the Click-and-Collect service is not available, or where an item is required immediately, please speak to staff at one of our Help Points. We will fetch material as-and-when if it is possible to do so.

Bookable Study Pods and Rooms

We appreciate that for some UCL students, background noise or visual distractions can make it hard to study. We have allocated bookable study spaces for individual use that reduce these distractions. These spaces are either study pods, with barriers around the desk, or fully enclosed rooms.

The spaces available for booking can be found on our Bookable study spaces list webpage. For individual study, we advise booking a Study Pod or a Group Study Room with a maximum capacity of 4.

Access for Support Workers

We will arrange library access for support workers, study assistants and carers whenever this is required. Please contact the Accessibility team for more information.

Building Accessibility and Reasonable Adjustments

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

The Accessibility webpage also outlines some of the reasonable adjustments that we can make to remove barriers to our services and the study environment. This list is not exhaustive, and we consider the needs of every member of our libraries on an individual basis.