AbleData is a review website for assistive technology maintained by the The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) that aims for objectivity, and does not sell any products.    The assistive technology product database includes the following categories:

AbleData also provides lists of regional, national, and international resources and conferences. A searchable assistive technology literature library includes links to thousands of publications on 45 different topics, along with downloadable fact sheets on each major category of assistive technology. One of the more interesting documents on the site is their Guide to Indexing Terms, which is helpful in researching information both on the AbleData site and other databases.

AbleData is an excellent resource for biomedical librarians not when considering assistive technology purchases, but also as an informative resource referral for clinicians and patients alike.


The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR):

ADA Entrance

ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADDAG)

ADA Entrance

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Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 presented regulations to ensure accessibility to buildings and facilities for people with disabilities. Section 8 of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities from the United States Access Board provides specific guidelines for libraries. In addition to the standard building guidelines, these additional regulations increase physical accessibility to study and reading areas, checkout, card catalogs, magazine racks, and stacks. However, following the regulations of the ADA should  just be a start. To be a truly inclusive environment, libraries must reach beyond simply providing the traditional accommodations for ambulatory impairments. Those with special needs require not only access to the physical building and materials, but also access to the information within.

Americans with Disabilities Act:

United States Access Board:

U.S. GAO – Older Workers: Demographic Trends Pose Challenges for Employers and Workers

Though this report is now ten years old, it is interesting to revisit as this year marks the first that the Baby Boomer generation turned 65. It was estimated that by 2015, 19.6% of the labor force will be over the age of 55 (Figure 1).  These numbers are comparable to job statistics in the health sciences, 19.3 % of doctors and 12% of nurses were over the age of 55 in 2,000 (Table 8). These figures are important when considering the clientele of the biomedical library and the special needs that might arise with regards to potential vision, hearing, and mobility impairments as workers retire at a later age.

You can download a PDF of the report at: U.S. GAO – Older Workers: Demographic Trends Pose Challenges for Employers and Workers.

IFLA: Library Services to People with Special Needs Section

IFLA LogoThe International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ LSN was originally created as part of Subcommittee on Hospital Libraries in 1931 as a means to promote library services (including bibliotherapy) to those that were hospitalized and homebound. Renamed for the 6th time in 2008, the Library Service to Special Needs Section of the IFLA is a forum for library and professionals across the globe to discuss improving services to those not only in healthcare facilities, but also all library patrons with disabilities. As this section covers services to all who cannot access traditional library services, prison library issues are also covered. The LSN digital newsletter and publication archive is available on the IFLA website.