Reason #118 – We’re 100% Accessible

Reason #118 - Accessibility

We are accessible!

Recently, the Province of Ontario passed laws requiring that all companies, organizations and government agencies make their services more accessible. Although the new legislation also applies to libraries, accessibility is nothing new for us! A principle of service for libraries has always been that we serve all ages and levels of abilities. The province has set standards physical buildings, such as requiring wider doorways, ramps instead of stairs, and elevators with raised buttons. There are also guidelines for customer service, such as making sure that our important documents are available in multiple formats.

 

St. Thomas Public Library has many services for accessibility. With assistance from the Lions Club of St. Thomas, we have an accessibility station, including a special computer with touch screen, a text magnifier, and a text-to-voice reader. We have an audiobook collection of over 1,000 items and a Large Print collection of almost 10,000 items for the visually impaired. Recently, we redesigned our website with new accessibility standards in mind. (Go to http://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca/ and check out the accessibility options in the top left-hand corner of the page.) And for those who are unable to get to the library, our Home Library Service provides selection and delivery of materials to visually impaired and home-bound persons by staff and volunteers.

When it comes to the library building, we’ve been given the “Thumbs Up” certification by the St. Thomas Thumbs Up Committee for being accessible to the community. Some of our accessibility features include: ramps and hand rails at both the main and lower entrances with automatic doors, accessible/family washrooms on all three levels of the library, aisles that meet the 81 cm accessibility code (for walkers, scooters, strollers, etc.) that are free from clutter, an upgraded elevator to include braille, light-up display, and sound communication, and all of our door handles can be opened easily with one hand (among many other standards.)

 

All our staff and volunteers are trained on the principles of accessibility, and we can help you!

STPL Achieves Ontario Public Library Accreditation

The St. Thomas Public Library Board is pleased to announce that the Library successfully achieved Ontario Public Library Accreditation. This certification is a public recognition that the Library and its services have met an expected standard for public libraries in Ontario. Out of a total of 166 required standards, St Thomas Public Library met 165! The only area which needed improvement was that many of the shelves in the Adult area were too high to meet acceptable standards. We were honoured to receive this Award from the Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport at the Ontario Library Conference on February 2nd, 2014. On behalf of Minister Chan, Helene Golden, Southern Ontario Library Services Consultant, presents the certificate to Board Chair Greg Grondin, and CEO Rudi Denham.

The Accreditation process ensures that libraries meet standards in 6 areas: Governance, Accessibility, Resources, Services, Co-operation & Partnerships, and Technology. Anne Marie Madziak, Southern Ontario Library Services Consultant, and one of a team of peer reviewers who conducted the audit, said: Good news – not only did you pass the audit, you passed with only one unmet requirement! That’s impressive! Congratulations on a job well done!

The accreditation is valid for five years, after which the library must undergo another review to renew the certificate. As part of the accreditation process, we reviewed our existing policies, and we have proven that we have both the mandatory and recommended policies, though we found that many need updating. To ensure that our policies reflect current community needs, policy review will be a focus for 2014.
A great deal of time and effort by many staff throughout 2013 was required to achieve this milestone. The Library Board congratulated the staff for their hard work in this significant achievement.

(from left to right) Rudi Denham - CEO, Greg Grondin - Library Board Chair, Helene Golden - Southern Ontario Library Services Consultant
(from left to right)
Rudi Denham – CEO, Greg Grondin – Library Board Chair, Helene Golden – Southern Ontario Library Services Consultant