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CUNY LIBRARIES ARE OPEN both ONLINE and on campus! We are open online for reference & instruction. E-resources are fully available. CUNY Libraries physical spaces are also open for quiet study, computers and wifi, materials pickup, and more. Please note that library plans are subject to change based on the evolving pandemic situation and plans at each campus. At this time, due to the pandemic, campus access (including libraries) may be restricted to each campus’ current students, faculty and staff. Some libraries require reservations. Please check our College Libraries page for details about the library you plan to visit.

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Digital Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning: CUNY: Tools and Assistive Technologies

Campus Resources

•There are 23 Campus Disability Offices, e.g.  CSI’s Center for Student Accessibility, Hunter’s Office of AccessABILITY, Baruch’s Disability Services. Resource Centers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, are located within these offices.  


  • Institutions of Higher Education are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) not the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). ADA covers public accommodations, places of employment, and government services. The accommodation cannot fundamentally change the nature of the program or service (i.e., course) nor can it place an undue financial burden on the institution.
•Student Disability offices provide reasonable accommodations and services to students who 'self-identify' with a 'documented' disability to receive adaptive resources (i.e., assistive technologies), modifications in the classroom, and other support services. Only students who are registered can receive 504 accommodations (e.g., extended test time, test proctor, note taker), auxiliary aids such as CART services, alternative or large print texts/ scanning, and assistive technologies (e.g., LiveScribe, Kurzweil 3000, JAWS, ZoomText, DragonNaturally Speaking). Do not provide any modifications for your students without first being informed by or consulting your disability office. A student, even with adaptive technologies or modifications, still needs to be able to function in a classroom environment or any type of course setting.


  • Offices of Disability Services will be unable to discuss a specific student circumstances or record with anyone (including parents or guardians) without that student's express permission, due to protection under FERBA. You can not ask a student if they have a disability or ask what disability they have. Students can only self-disclose.
•Campus Office of Diversity and Compliance ensure compliance with federal, state, city laws, and CUNY policies. Consult this office when you have a concern about a legal issue with a student who is disabled.
•Human Resources assists with reasonable accommodations for staff or faculty disability issues. If you are a supervisor or employee, consult this office for guidance.

•Some campuses have committees, made up of various departments, to discuss accessibility issues before major decisions (i.e. academic programs or infrastructure) are made. In libraries, having a library liaison to your local disability office or library committees (or sub-committees) devoted to the multitude of accessibility issues, is essential. Does your library have one?

  • Each campus hosts CUNY Disability Awareness Month in April, to generate awareness of the population and various support services. This is a CUNY wide initiative.
•Project REACH (Resources and Education on Autism as CUNY’s Hallmark) has been developed to promote the successful and full participation of students on the autistic spectrum at the university. Each campus has REACH directors. The Autism Training Deck was created at CSI for individuals not on the Autistic spectrum, through this program. 
•CUNY LEADS (Linking Employment, Academics & Disability Services) program provides career readiness services to assist students with disabilities. Each campus has a LEADS advisor that partners with various agencies/businesses to provide employment opportunities. Interview and resume writing skills are also provided. 

CUNY Resources

•Council on Student Disability Issues (COSDI) meets monthly with the directors of all the campus disability offices.


•COSDI created the booklet, Reasonable Accommodations: A Faculty Guide to Teaching Students with Disabilities. Download for your own use!


•CUNY’s Assistive Technology Services (CATS) provides students with disabilities with innovative technology access solutions, along with the Learning Disabilities and Media Accessibility Projects. CATS is the sand-box environment for testing all Adaptive Technologies and providing AT licenses CUNY-wide (e.g., JAWS screenreader; ZOOMtext- magnifies 60x; Kurzweil 3000- an LD tool that provides text to speech, bilingual translation, a spellchecker and has many UD features; DragonNaturally Speaking turns speech into text and has UD features).
•CUNY’s IT and new website, launched in the Spring of 2016, and has CUNY's Accessibility Statement. There are many features on this website to assist with creating accessible Microsoft Office documents, website pages, and other tips. 


•CUNY’s Technology Accessibility Task Force members and working groups, were formed recently by the Chancellor's office. In January 2015, the surveyed all CUNY libraries with regards to what assistive technologies are present.

Resources Beyond CUNY

•Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD), part of the National Library Service, allows librarians to register a patron so they can download audiobooks, audio magazines and Braille files. For a nominal fee, individuals with print disabilities can also sign up for


Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Library (NYC Regional NLS/ NYPL) offers workshops, trainings and support groups. They still offer accounts for libraries for physical equipment and ship out digital books and Braille items.  


•New York Metro Abilities Expo takes place annually in May at the NJ Convention & Expo Center. Offers workshops, events, and accessibility demonstrations.


Project ENABLE provides free training for libraries and their staff to help them gain the knowledge and skills needed to create inclusive and accessible libraries.