In August 2021, the Macomb Library for the Blind and Print Disabled (MLBPD) was awarded the LSTA Improving Access to Information grant funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library of Michigan. With the grant award, MLBPD developed a new program called the Adaptive Technology Lending Program (ATLP) to help bridge the digital equity gap (equity & inclusion) in Macomb County’s disability community. The ATLP consists of twenty-nine technology devices of which twenty-six of the devices are equipped with built-in accessibility features giving individuals with varying degrees of disabilities the ability to operate the technology independently. The ATLP also includes technology training and digital and health literacy instruction to ensure that participants in the program are given the opportunity to learn basic technology skills and literacy skills to use technology effectively and access information successfully.
In order for the ATLP to have a broader impact, MLBPD is partnering with organizations who serve individuals who are blind or have a visual, physical or reading disability to help facilitate the program. The ATLP is an on-site program and organizations do not have to come to the library to check out the technology or to attend training or instruction. MLBPD staff will bring the technology, training, and instruction to the participants.
Who Needs These Resources?
As an unserved and marginalized population, the disability community often have limited or no access to Wi-Fi or technology. A majority of individuals with disabilities do not have the means to purchase technology and for those who do often do not have the proper skills to use it effectively. Furthermore, most individuals with disabilities are not aware of the built-in accessibility features that are available on most devices, missing out on the opportunity to independently access information and to stay connected with friends and family.
According to Anderson, M. & Perrin, A. (2020, August 14), Adults with disabilities face more barriers than adults without disabilities in terms of access to technology, “more than 56 million people in the United States are living with a disability according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But even as a growing share of these Americans report going online or owning a smartphone, the digital divide between those who have a disability and those who don’t remain large.
What We Are Doing
In an effort to effectively reach Macomb County’s disability community, we decided to focus our outreach efforts on two groups; older adults and K-12 population. In order to reach the older adult disability population, we are partnering with activity directors in assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, and senior apartment complexes. To effectively reach the K-12 education community we are partnering with educators in the Macomb Intermediate School District who support students with disabilities.
Organizations in Macomb County who serve people with visual, physical or reading disability are eligible to participate in the Adaptive Technology Lending Program.
The loan period for each kit is 3 weeks. Organizations are limited to one kit per loan period and are allowed one renewal if no one has placed a hold on it.
The kits are available at MLBPD inside the Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s Main Library, located at 40900 Romeo Plank Road, Clinton Township.
Download and sign the agreement waiver.
If you are interested in borrowing a kit or would like to learn more about it, contact MLBPD at (586) 286-1580 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to answer your questions.