Are Library and Information Science Educators Teaching Accessibility?

Content Analysis of Syllabi


  • Dr. Kevin J. Mallary Old Dominion University
  • Dr. Rea N. Simons Old Dominion University
  • Dr. Clayton A. Copeland University of South Carolina
  • Jackie Nikiema Old Dominion University
  • Evan J. Dorman Old Dominion University



accessibility, disability, diversity, equity, and inclusion


Library and information science (LIS) graduates are expected to serve patrons from diverse backgrounds, including disabled patrons. While serving patrons with disabilities is a core value of librarianship, graduates often feel unprepared to serve disabled patrons, suggesting that programs inadequately train students to design accessible services. This study’s authors analyzed hundreds of course descriptions and 73 syllabi from 20 North American LIS programs to determine how often accessibility and disability topics are covered and how educators teach accessibility. Findings indicate that accessibility and disability topics are mostly covered in electives, meaning students may never develop accessibility competencies during their programs. Additionally, a lack of disability-focused assessments may create the impression that serving disabled patrons is less important to LIS than addressing the needs of other underserved communities. Recommendations for educators include creating or revising learning objectives and assessments to prioritize accessibility education and support disabled patrons.


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Juried Papers