Accessibility

Question

We have a large facility. Sometimes patrons have to walk far to get to various programs and spaces. We have had a few patrons in the recent couple of months ask if we have a wheelchair or walker they could use to help them get around. We consulted with our insurance provider about this and he basically said to ask a lawyer.

Answer

This is such a beautiful idea! In my experience, there are three things that often impede beautiful ideas:

  1. Insurance concerns;
  2. Legal concerns; and
  3. People who worry that there might be insurance or legal concerns.

This question shows how to protect an idea from these impediments:


Question

How long should the library retain employee records, payroll records, sales and purchase records, mortgage and loan documents, and other records?

Answer

Several considerations impact the answer to this question:

For a public library, the bare minimum record retention periods are found in a document called "the LGS-1."[1]  The LGS-1 has rules for retention covering everything from your library's charter, to how long you hold onto circulation records.


Question

My institution subscribes to the "Kurzweil Reading Program", a "Text-to-Speech" product for those with reading impairments (dyslexia, English language learners, blind/vision impaired, etc.)

Section 121 indicates these users are "eligible persons" for "fair use", but others, without such disabilities could use the program (like an audiobook in the car!).

Answer

This question reflects the level of savvy "Ask the Lawyer" readers bring to their submissions.  The member submitting the question has already set out (in a manner much more succinct than I usually achieve) the interplay of:


Question

"Ask the Lawyer" got two questions about the April 9, 2022 changes to the Open Meetings Law ("OML"), which will enable library boards to more easily meet via videoconferencing.  The questions asked for sample resolution language to enable a board to meet via videoconference, and compliance checklists to make sure a board is getting all the new details right.

Answer

To answer these questions, we've created an "Open Meetings Law 2022 Library Board Chart and Checklist" that sets out:


Question

Students in a school are reading a simultaneous use eBook. The students with IEPs[1] have access to a screen reader but this feature is very robotic and doesn't meet their needs. The school librarian and the School Library System searched for an audio version of this book but could not find one for purchase.

Answer

The school may be covered by Fair Use but for this scenario, it doesn't need to be in order to make the recording proposed by the member.

Why?


Question

We had a patron come in this past week who said that he couldn't see well and also couldn't type or use a mouse, but he needed to certify Unemployment Insurance. He asked the staff member to login with his username and password and do this for him, and the staff member was, understandably, uncomfortable doing it.

Answer

At first glance, this question seems simple: what are the possible legal risks to a librarian helping a patron fill out a legal document?

But within this question lies another, slightly more complex issue: when does good customer service become an accommodation for a disability?


Question

Some of my member libraries have questions about the new Gender Neutral Bathroom Legislation:
 

1) Type of signage required to be placed on or near the bathroom door. That is, does the sign have to specify "gender neutral", or, is "bathroom" ok.  Also, can one use a sign that uses symbols (male, female, ADA) rather than sex?

Answer

Above all, "Ask the Lawyer" strives to provide useful, plain-language legal information and analysis for the members of New York's regional library councils.

So before I delve into the background, legal analysis, and compliance tips I would like to offer in response to these questions, here are some useful, plain-language answers:


Question

Should our library have an accessibility statement?  And should we consider accessibility when making purchases?

Answer

Yes, and yes.

Every library, historical society, archives, or museum, if open to the public, should have accessibility information posted at its premises, in its printed brochures and fliers, and on its website.


Question

Our library has taken the next step in re-opening and is welcoming the public back into our building.  We have a Safety Plan, and we have posted signage in key areas to help the public follow our safety practices, including staying at least six feet apart whenever possible, and every visitor using hand sanitizer upon entry and (if over the age of two) wearing face coverings at all times.

Answer

It is not wrong to require patrons to wear masks.  As of this writing (July 7, 2020), qualified experts agree that masks remain one of the most effective ways to stop the transmission of COVID-19.[1]  In an environment storing circulating materials[2] and shar


Question

When publishing Oral Histories to a Digital Exhibit, such as Omeka, are we required by ADA to include a full transcription of the interview in the metadata? Is a Time Summary sufficient?

Answer

Ugh.

Not only is the answer to this “maybe,” but I am afraid the answer is actually “maybe maybe.”  And it might even have to be “Maybe maybe maybe, maybe.”  But hang in there, because I think I can still give you some solid information in reply! (Maybe.)