In News & Blog, Arts and Culture

Whether you get high on Hemingway, would rather Rowling or are more of a sucker for Seuss, there’s nowhere quite like the library to your literary fix . But if you have a disability, the library may bring up more questions than answers: Does the facility have an accessible ramp or elevator? Can that small print get any bigger? And what options are there for people who can’t hold a physical book? Read on, readers—we’ve got you covered!


Ah, yes, the library—the place where people would go to to relax, enjoy some “quiet time,” and to read, read, and read… But is this still true?

Nowadays, the library is filled with the sound of endless typing and has become the go-to spot for study dates and game nights. Best of all, libraries are continuously developing to redefine and expand their services to meet the needs of everyone in the community.

Visiting the library is an activity enjoyed by most Canadians, but in some cases, may not always be the most convenient. If you are in a wheelchair, you often have to consider outside factors: Does the library have an accessible ramp? What options are there for people who can’t hold a physical book? What about an elevator? You’ve got the questions, we’ve got the answers.


Accessing the Printed Word: From Audiobooks to eBooks

Libraries are now adjusting themselves to better fit the needs of individuals with print disabilities, which includes anyone who has trouble holding a physical book or turning pages. Often, people are not aware that their local library offers these kinds of services. Do not shy away from asking your librarian about these hidden tools- that is what he/she is there for! Libraries now offer enhanced services such as audiobooks, eBooks, online downloadable formats, and delivery.

The Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that provides individuals with print disabilities with accessible reading services. CELA offers a wide variety of materials that users can choose from, such as books, magazines, and videos. With tailored formats like audiobooks, Braille, and described films, CELA makes going to the library a pleasant and joyous experience for all. For those who aren’t able to travel to the library, individuals can download books through a computer or have CDs delivered to the comfort of their own home.

You might be asking yourself, “how do I use CELA?” It’s simple—all you need is a library card and to live in a local library area that funds CELA. To check if your local library offers CELA services, visit the CELA website.

The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) is another Canadian organization similar to CELA, offering services tailored to fit people with perceptual impairments. Again, all you need is your library card. To see the full list of all participating BC libraries who use NNELS,visit the NNELS website.


Now, what about your iPhone and Android?

Thanks to smartphones, numerous mobile applications now offer library-related services that are wildly available for everybody to enjoy. Sit back with your favourite cup of coffee and snuggle down with these library applications:

OverDrive is an online platform that provides users with a wide variety of eBooks and audiobooks to choose and read from. For film and TV fanatics, video and show streaming is available on Android and iOS. OverDrive gives individuals the choice to tailor their reading experience by customizing font sizes and adjusting audio speeds. You can listen to your favourite series on the go, or even in the comfort of your own home. OverDrive can be accessed on desktop, Kindle, Android, and iOS.

Libby, an application that is available on Android and iOs, is a service created by OverDrive. Libby pairs with local libraries around your area and allows users to borrow books with a touch of a button. Additionally, Libby users can pair with multiple libraries and download eBooks for offline reading. Libby offers a wide range of services, including audiobooks, graphic novels, and picture books.

RBdigital Audiobooks & eBooks (formerly known as OneClickdigital) is a platform where patrons can read and borrow online books from their library. The type of content that RBdigital Audiobooks & eBooks has is dependant on your local library. The application is available in the Apple Store as well as Google Play.

To access these services, you may need a library card and/or a digital device (a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or a computer, just to name a few). A majority of public BC libraries may offer additional services, and you can find more information on your local library here. You can also contact our InfoLine if you have questions about library services or anything else SCI-related: 1-800-689-2477 or


It’s important to mention again that a majority of libraries nowadays do offer a delivery option to patrons who aren’t able to get out and about, and that library staff are more than happy to assist you with the services mentioned above.

On the other hand, though, if you would like venture out to your local library, transit routes, bus routes, and many libraries are now wheelchair accessible. Happy reading!

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