Ethics can be a tricky business.

It is the job of the librarian to ensure that library users have access to materials of all types that represent any subject and/or perspective. It is also their responsibility to make sure that the materials are available to all users, making accommodations and ensuring appropriate formats as required.

However, when it comes to providing access and appropriate accommodations for the d/Deaf it can prove to be a tricky ethical issue for libraries. In order to eliminate discrimination and ensure access legislation has been put in place for hose who have disabilities. The problem with this comes down to a matter of perspective. Those outside of Deaf culture see the d/Deaf from their mainstream concepts of disability. Those who identify themselves as a part of Deaf culture do not see themselves as disabled. They identify as a distinct linguistic minority group (McQuigg 2003).

This is made even murkier by the different concepts of deaf and Deaf. While the Deaf see themselves as a cultural, linguistic group, the deaf do not necessarily identify themselves with Deaf culture. The library, as an access point for information, needs to be prepared to deal with either circumstance and to be aware of the difference and sensitive to the needs of both. That can be far easier said than done. In trying to be sensitive and accommodating to those with disabilities, it is very possible to offend the culture of others. However, in attempting to be sensitive to the needs of Deaf culture libraries must remain aware of those who do not identify with those needs.

When dealing with this unique and diverse information community, determining the needs of individual users can definitely be a tricky business.

Reference

McQuigg, K. (2003). Are the deaf a disabled group,or a linquistic minority? The Australian Library Journal, 52(4), 367-486.

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