Skip to main content

BC Library Conference 2020

F02 - Accessible Libraries for Everyone

Friday, April 17, 2020 at 9:00 AM–10:15 AM EDT
Meeting Room #2
Session Description

Generously sponsored by: BCGEU

The members of this panel will present a real-time discussion about how they came together for collaborative research project between the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) and the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus (UBCO) in response to the Accessible Canada Act. This session will address how the Accessible Canada Act, which was officially passed into Federal law on June 21, 2019, addresses the physical, social, and economic inequalities experienced by disabled individuals to ensure more inclusive participation by all citizens. Additionally, the Provincial Government of British Columbia has set goals to make British Columbia the most progressive and barrier-free province in Canada for people with disabilities by 2024. Currently, British Columbia is one of four provinces in Canada to develop provincial accessibility legislation. Unlike more established legislation around accessibility in Ontario and the United States, for example, British Columbia’s action plan has yet to address concerns or contribute substantial change or cultural awareness regarding disability and accessibility. With such legislative plans underway, public institutions like libraries within British Columbia are experiencing a culture of change. When these federal and provincial acts apply to public institutions, this legislation will directly impact public libraries. Based on the findings and experiences from this collaborative project, the members of this panel respond to the ways that libraries can play active roles in educating the public by implementing new spaces, practices, and protocols around accessibility to create more inclusive public spaces. Additionally, this conversation will highlight how community-based research bridges gaps in both research and public policy applications. As key public institutions, libraries have a critical opportunity to facilitate community dialogue and be leaders in British Columbia in facilitating more inclusive, equitable, and accessible community spaces already underway in relation to the Accessible Canada Act and British Columbia’s plans for a barrier-free province by 2024.


Madelaine Lekei, University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Madelaine is a fourth year undergraduate student and Anthropology major at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Her research focuses on the sensory inclusivity of public spaces like the Okanagan Regional Library with an emphasis on less visible disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Her work is influenced by previous experience in the early education field supporting children with ASD as well as language, and developmental delays. As an anthropologist, Madelaine's research interests are in the intersections of visual and material culture, as well as public policy and disability with a focus on sensory knowledges and community based research approaches.

Fiona P. McDonald, University of British Columbia, Okanagan

Fiona P. McDonald is an assistant professor of visual anthropology and new media in the Department of Community, Culture, and Global Studies at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. At UBC, Fiona is the Director of the newly established Collaborative + Experimental Ethnography Lab that focuses on Climate Justice, Mobility, and Social Change and at the core of all projects is sensory anthography. Fiona is also the co-founder of Ethnographic Terminalia Collective (ETC) (est.2009), an international curatorial collective that curates exhibitions at the intersections of arts and anthropology that has curated and organized exhibitions and workshops across North America.

Monica Gaucher, Okanagan Regional Library

Monica Gaucher is a former elementary teacher, youth services librarian, and is a proud ‘Activist’ librarian. She is currently the Director of Public Services for the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL). Her work focuses on developing excellence in the public facing services of the organization through coaching, educating, and empowering front-line staff. She has worked extensively with UBC Okanagan, especially at the ORL’s pocket library within the UBC Okanagan library. She is also always up for a good chat about knitting and design! (

Tara Thompson, Okangan Regional Library

Tara Thompson joined the library world as a Library Page in high school and is now the Okanagan Regional Library’s (ORL) Community Engagement Coordinator. She focuses on getting ORL branches to leave their spaces to meet their communities where they are and also brings community in to our spaces through partnerships and events. Improving library accessibility is currently a major focus and she is learning more about the four types of disability (visual, hearing, motor skills, and cognitive) and how to design for all (essential for some, useful for all!). You can also ask her about curling and yoga!