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The impact of the Disability Equality Duty on our service to users CLAUD July 2006 . Deb Viney, Diversity Adviser, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London formerly Head of the Disability Service, University of Southampton.

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The impact of the disability equality duty on our service to users claud july 2006 l.jpg

The impact of the Disability Equality Duty on our service to usersCLAUD July 2006

Deb Viney, Diversity Adviser, School of Oriental and African Studies,

University of London

formerly Head of the Disability Service,

University of Southampton


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The key aspects of the usersGeneral Disability Equality Duty

Institutions must

  • have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination

  • actively promote equal opportunities for disabled people

  • eliminate harassment of disabled people

  • promote positive attitudes towards disabled people

  • actively encourage the participation of disabled people in public life.

CLAUD


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The intent behind the new legislation users

  • The DDA (2005) has extended the definition of disability, e.g. to explicitly include those with intermittent conditions (such as HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis), but it has not assigned any new rights to individual disabled people.

  • Public bodies are to LEAD the developments, setting examples of best practice for other sectors to follow.

  • The emphasis is on making organisations more pro-active, rather than reactive. It applies to disabled students, staff and visitors.

  • Rather than waiting for an individual to bring a complaint, organisations should be seeking ways to engage disabled people, in order to obtain their views about service developments.

CLAUD


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The key aspects of the usersSpecific Disability Equality Duty

CLAUD


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In producing the DES institutions must: users

· Involve disabled people in producing the scheme and developing the action plan.

· Identify how they will gather and analyse evidence to inform their actions and track progress.

· Set out how they will assess the impact of their existing and proposed activities on disabled people.

· Produce an action plan for the next three years (2007-2009).

· Report on their progress every year and review and make appropriate revisions to this scheme at least every three years.

CLAUD


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Effects on service to library users [1] users

  • Pro-active, planned developments anticipating the needs of disabled people, rather than reaction to complaints and negative feedback.

  • Active, on-going involvement of disabled people in decision making processes as well as user feedback groups.

  • Greater transparency of decision making processes.

CLAUD


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Effects on service to library users [2] users

  • Any feedback will need to be published with explanation of planned responses to address the issue which has been raised.

  • Increased monitoring of disabled library users and of their opinions on various issues.

  • Increased attentiveness to potential harassment of and prejudice about disabled people.

CLAUD


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Effects on service to library users [3] users

  • A programme of activities designed to encourage positive attitudes to disabled people

  • Discover whether disabled staff would be willing to be role models for other disabled people, identified as such in publicity materials.

  • Ensure all literature and publicity materials have positive images of disabled people and that these are not limited to the sections dealing with the needs of disabled library users (the images should also feature both genders and various ethnic groups).

CLAUD


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The groups who must be considered users

  • Disabled students as library users

  • Disabled staff as library users

  • Disabled library staff

  • Disabled visitors and other contacts

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[1]

  • Discover who is co-ordinating the institutional response and ask how library staff can contribute to the process.

  • Develop a list of all library policies and procedures in preparation for the institutional Impact Assessment. Identify those responsible for each policy / procedure.

  • Conduct a review of library policies, procedures and practices to check for any unintentional prejudice or discrimination against any person or group of people who are disabled. E.g. check publications to ensure that some images of disabled people have been used, especially in sections which do not deal explicitly with disability needs.

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[2]

  • Review the library’s current activities promoting “equal opportunities” and the means by which these activities are publicised, consider possible additional activities and a fresh publicity campaign.

  • Review the library records of any past harassment, discrimination or other complaints, check for general changes / actions which could be taken to avoid similar situations arising again.

  • Collate records of prior disabled user feedback and summarise any issues which remain unaddressed. Pass this information to the institutional co-ordinator for possible inclusion in the DES.

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[3]

  • Establish or incorporate into a regular survey of all library users, specific questions about disability related issues and prejudice or harassment associated with disability.

  • Review survey responses to identify changes / actions which could be undertaken to avoid similar situations arising again.

  • Consider a survey of all users including a section specifically about disability-related issues (to capture the views of those who chose not to disclose).

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[4]

  • Incorporate those changes / actions which are identified from the survey in the next round of library strategic and operational planning.

  • Forward a summary of the planned changes / actions to your institutional co-ordinator for inclusion in the DES Action Plan.

  • Plan a library-based campaign to actively promote positive attitudes to people with disabilities. E.g. displays of books on disability issues; display of fictional work by authors who are disabled people.

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[5]

  • Actively encourage disabled people to engage in all generic user feedback activities. E.g. ensure the demographic section of the regular user survey includes a disability section; ask about disability issues in the generic survey.

  • Consider feedback events specific to disabled library users or even to sub-groups of disabled people (e.g. a group of people who are wheelchair users, a group who are visually impaired).

  • Make disabled people’s involvement and the results from it as visible as possible (e.g. a targeted campaign of posters saying “Disabled library users told us that … so we did …”).

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[6]

  • Train all staff to ensure that they display positive attitudes to disabled people and have a broad understanding of the needs of disabled library users.

  • Train line managers to observe their teams’ behaviours and attitudes and to challengeinappropriate attitudes (including behaviour) towards disabled people every time they observe such attitudes.

  • Also train all staff to challenge inappropriate attitudes (including behaviour) towards disabled people every time they encounter such attitudes (e.g. in students or visitors).

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[7]

  • Contact all library staff explaining the reason for collecting disability data, encouraging disclosure and invite staff to review their personal data.

  • Analyse the library staff data to establish the proportion of disabled staff, compare with appropriate national and other benchmarks.

  • Consider whether positive action strategies might be appropriate for the recruitment process for any library posts which arise.

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[8]

  • Review library staff training activities, promotions and other rewards over the last three years and check for under-representation of disabled staff.

  • Ensure that staff appraisal and other processes throughout the employment cycle include consideration of the staff members’ disability related needs.

    E.g. consideration of technical resources or human support or additional training which may be useful.

  • Consider whether positive action strategies are required to encourage disabled staff members to apply for staff development, promotion and other rewards.

CLAUD


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How can Library staff help the HEI to meet its general DED? users[9]

  • Check for any inequalities in the proportions of staff members who have resigned or left; consider conducting exit reviews to check for issues which need to be addressed.

  • Conduct an anonymous survey of all library staff

    (or other methodology) to discover

    A) whether there are staff who have chosen not to disclose a

    disability and if so why?

    B) what staff disability-related issues remain to be addressed in

    the library as a work environment?

    C) whether staff have experienced disability-related prejudice or

    harassment?

CLAUD


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How can Library staff contribute to the development of the DES and its Action Plan?

  • The institutional co-ordinator [IC] must include in the DES a “baseline provision” statement re current resources and services for disabled students, staff, visitors and others. Library staff can contribute to the library section of this statement.

  • Any existing plans for developments can also be passed to the IC for inclusion in the Action Plan.

  • Leadership from the top is a key principal in implementing the DES, so Library senior managers can set an example for others by leading on this issue and raising it at senior management level.

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [2]

  • the DES Action Plans must be linked to Institutional and Library strategic plans.

  • it includes setting appropriate disability related targets for both staff and student activity.

  • consider offering incentives for disability related activities.

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [3]

  • the DES must explain how disabled students were involved in producing the Scheme and its action plans. Library staff can contribute to the involvement section by describing existing and planned activities for capturing users’ views.

  • The HEI must also explain how disabled staff were involved in producing the DES + AP, so library staff can contribute staff users’ views and also the views of disabled library staff.

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [4]

  • if the library has any disability specialist staff, they will also need to have some input into the DES + AP.

  • There may be other local disabled people or organisations representing disabled people who could contribute to the DES process.

    E.g. do other local libraries have user feedback which could be helpful to us? What about our feeder colleges?

  • Library staff can help to determine the appropriate comparators for use in analysing our data.

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [3]

  • Library staff may also have a contribution to make in the DES sections concerned with the ethical / business / best practice case(s) for inclusion.

  • There may also be a contribution to the plans for prioritising Impact Assessments (which must be undertaken for all policies, procedures and practices).

  • Library data collection (quantitative and qualitative) and analysis re staff (recruitment, retention, achievement) and students will contribute to the evidence sections of the DES.

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [4]

The library also has a role in...

  • encouraging disclosure by both students and staff

  • collecting monitoring statistics including both those which are currently available and those which may be needed in future.

  • publishing or publicising that information

  • the on-going engagement of disabled students

  • the on-going involvement of disabled staff.

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [5]

Library staff could take a role in...

  • considering existing research on the experiences of disabled people in similar institutions, including:

  • the views of disabled students

  • the views of disabled applicants for courses / posts

  • the views of disabled staff

  • the views of others

  • prioritisation of SMART targets for the DES+ AP

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [6]

More areas where library staff may have a role...

  • embedding disability into the organisational culture

  • discovering what do not we know about our institution (and establishing how we will find out)

  • reviewing previous complaints and the complaints process

  • monitoring HR processes

  • investigating any differentials between disabled and non-disabled staff / students

CLAUD


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Library staff contributions to DES and its Action Plan?the DES and its Action Plan [7]

The final sections of the DES + AP deal with the future: looking ahead to discover

- the challenges we can anticipate

- any changes to the sector / institution we can anticipate.

Library staff can contribute to this process of anticipation by informing colleagues of future developments and forthcoming challenges in their own areas of expertise.

CLAUD


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Library related issues [1] DES and its Action Plan?

  • Developments in services for people with print impairments, especially electronic books and documents (e.g. study packs)

  • DAISY formats

    [digitally accessible information systems]

  • other electronic resources (e.g. websites)

  • the need to develop NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL catalogues of such resources.

CLAUD


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Library related issues [2] DES and its Action Plan?

  • Assistive technology: every library staff member with user contact should have at least a general familiarity with the devices available to help with access to print.

  • Emergency egress plans for disabled individuals and visitors: still need to be developed in many institutions.

CLAUD


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Library related issues [3] DES and its Action Plan?

  • Physical access issues: publicity materials need to be honest about any limitations and the adjustments which address those limitations (e.g. book fetching from inaccessible areas).

  • Quiet study rooms: some students have a particular need for quiet study space, and libraries are often the quietest area in which to locate such facilities.

CLAUD


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