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Using library furniture to increase accessibility for the disabled

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Choosing the right configuration and style of furniture can help to make your library accessible to all people in your area. Here are some ways to make the library easy to navigate. 

Maintain a suitable gap between bookcases

Having an extremely narrow gap between bookcases can make it hard for people using wheelchairs or mobility devices to access the library. Try to keep a gap of at least 1000mm to allow wheelchair users to navigate the hallways, with space at the end of aisles of at least 1350mm to allow the wheelchair users to turn. Try to store materials at an accessible height, so that people are not limited by not being able to access high shelves. 

Keep the aisle space clear from obstacles such as step stool or discarded books by leaving signs for users to keep the area clean, and getting staff to do regular checks on clear aisles.  

Desks and chairs with varied heights

Desks and chairs with varied heights help users of different statures to access the library facilities. It also makes it easier for wheelchair users to access the desk space. Adjustable desks can be a great option for this reason. 

Try to place chairs near the checkout areas so that people who cannot stand for long periods can rest if there is a queue for checkout facilities at times. 

Include extra powerpoints and connectivity

Many users with disabilities have devices that can help then access to the library resources, such as computers and AV equipment to help people with sight restriction listen to audiobooks. It can be useful to purchase desks with built-in power points to ensure that people can charge their necessary devices as they use them. It can also be a great idea to get help desk and checkout facilities with hearing loop connections so that users with limited hearing can access help if they need. 

Non-slip rugs

For patrons who are not steady on their feet, or use mobility devices, it can be a good idea to also look at updating the floor. Non-slip rugs can be a great way to make the flooring more secure and limit slips and falls. Rugs can also be easily updated or replaced if they are damaged, without needs to reduce access to any area of the library for the repair period. 

By making some sensible decisions when choosing library furniture you can help to make the library more accessible for everyone.