With a national theme of “Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity Includes Workers with Disabilities,” Disability Employment Awareness Month was celebrated in October with several public programs held at the Library of Congress.
Library staff members Jane Sheehan and Don Olson discussed “The History of the Guide-Dog Movement” and demonstrated the role of the guide dog in the lives of individuals who are blind. They were accompanied by working dogs Nugget and Wagner.
An Assistive Technology Demonstration Showcase was held in Madison Hall on Oct. 20. It featured technologies that provide access to phones, computers and printed materials for those who are blind, deaf, physically or cognitively challenged.
One such example is “BrowseAloud,” a new assistive software for staff and patrons with impaired vision, which is accessible on the Library’s website. The new software allows users to view all enhanced websites, highlight text, increase font size, change colors and have the text read back to them. To use BrowseAloud on the Library’s website, locate the “Speech Enabled” icon at the bottom right of the home page. Users will be prompted to download the software plug-in. Once installation is complete, BrowseAloud will be enabled on compatible websites, including www.senate.gov, www.house.gov, Yahoo!, Google, Dictionary.com, MSN.com and many other commercial websites.
A film titled “Invisible Voices: New Perspectives on Disability” was shown and discussed on Oct. 27. The film reveals the prejudices and biases society places on people with disabilities and exposes personal stories of challenge and courage. The film was produced and distributed on DVD in 2010 in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disability Act. Eric Eldritch, the Library’s ADA access program manager, led the discussion.
In addition to these events, the Library celebrates the contributions of persons with disabilities on its web portal at www.loc.gov/disabilityawareness/.