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NNELS Information for Library Staff


This training page is for anyone who is new to NNELS.

For the real deal, please sign up for our regular NNELS training (English only).

1. What is a print disability?

NNELS is for library cardholders with perceptual or print disabilities as defined in the Canadian Copyright Act, or people acting on their behalf. A print disability prevents or inhibits someone from reading a traditional printed book as a result of:

  • severe or total impairment of sight or the inability to focus or move one’s eyes;
  • the inability to hold or manipulate a book; or
  • an impairment relating to comprehension.

Please note that this definition does not include, by themselves, people learning a new language, or people who are learning to read. These two categories of readers are not considered print-disabled and so are not automatically eligible for access to NNELS. However, people learning English or, especially, adults learning to read, may indeed have a print disability and be eligible for access to alternate formats. These categories are not mutually-exclusive.

2. Library Policy and Procedures for NNELS Access

If your library, region, or province does not already have a policy or procedure in place for determining eligibility for accessible library service, you can create your own.

You may choose to allow new users to self-declare either verbally to library staff, or by asking them to complete a self-declaration form. Some libraries require the completion of a competent authority form, but we do not require copies of registration documentation from libraries or individuals.

If you choose to collect paperwork, please respect patron privacy and destroy completed forms as soon as it is no longer needed. These forms often contain both personal and medical information and so they are very sensitive and should be treated with particular care (e.g. locked up when complete, and destroyed when they are no longer needed).

3. Useful Questions to Ask New Users

When you’re speaking with new accessible-format users, you may wish to make it a matter of procedure to find out how much assistance they need, what devices they use (or want to use) to read books (e.g. DAISY player, iPad, computer, etc.), and what they like to read. Here are some questions that might be useful:

  1. What's your experience so far with alternate format books?
  2. What do you like to read?
  3. What tools do you use to read? If you don't have something, what do you want to learn how to use?
  4. If you are looking for audiobooks, do you prefer synthetic or live narration?

Also think about what other library services might interest this new user — other digital content? library programs? other services or connections? Accessible format collections like NNELS are just the tip of the library service iceberg.

If you’re not sure how to help a reader put a digital book onto a device, you can visit the NNELS Tutorials or contact NNELS Support.

4. How to Register New Users

To determine which registration process your library will use, please go to the NNELS library look-up page and search for your library.

  • If the text reads, “Apply for an account," or begins with ,“This library is not active with NNELS,” please learn about becoming a User Manager.
  • If the text reads, “Log in with your library card” please sign up for NNELS training, and contact NNELS to arrange another time if those listed don't work for you.

5. Looking for More?

Library accessibility is about much more than understanding the definition of a print disability, or knowing how to use alternate formats. 

In our conversations with people who use accessible library services, we hear two things consistently. First, people with disabilities, like anyone, want to be full participants in their communities. Second, they want to be able to go to the library and leave with something to read.

Here are some videos and articles about accessibility that have influenced us:

Have something to add to this list that you think more people should know about? Please contact us!