When Hillary Pearson joined the American Library Association in late 2022 as its program manager, accessibility services, her mandate was straightforward: Support ALA’s mission of making sure everyone has access to information.
Of course, that can be easier said than done. Part of Pearson’s job is to help support and develop accessibility initiatives at the libraries where ALA members work. But she’s also working on how ALA operates internally. In either case, part of the job means encouraging people to look at their environments in ways they’re not accustomed to. Don’t just look for who’s participating. Look for who’s not—and why that might be.
“Attitudinal barriers very much exist,” she says. “If folks don’t see who’s coming into your space, or don’t see a group or community in the space, there’s an assumption that those people don’t need your service.”
Leading on accessibility involves more than just promoting tools and supporting ADA regulations, she says. It’s an ongoing process of teaching people how to look at the world differently.