Students improve accessibility at Bendigo Library

Bendigo TAFE’s vocational English students have joined forces with Bendigo Library to improve accessibility for visitors from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and others with limited reading ability.

Over the past six months, 25 students collaborated with library staff to design a new visitor map for the library, which was unveiled this week.

The new map was designed to improve users’ experience and make it more accessible for members of the local community. The students identified specific areas of the library that needed to be included in the new map and marked the locations on a large architectural outline of the library. Signage will also be placed on the walls of the library, including symbols for those requiring assistance with reading.

Currently part of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at Bendigo TAFE, most of the students are refugees from Karen State Myanmar, as well as from Afghanistan and South Sudan.

Bendigo TAFE’s AMEP teacher Angela Molloy said the opportunity to collaborate with Bendigo Library has provided students with vital practical experience within an Australian work environment, while contributing to a meaningful project to support others in the community.

“On their visit to the library early in the year, the English language students experienced difficulties with locating items. This initiated the project to map and provide signage in the library, in liaison with library staff,” Ms Molloy said.

“Our students thoroughly enjoyed the experience of locating specific areas in the library and then labelling the large architectural map on display. It gave them a sense of satisfaction that their work has been acknowledged and used in a practical manner to help other library visitors.”

Bendigo Library Services Officer Geordie Walker said it was a great opportunity to redesign the map from both an accessibility and diversity perspective.

“Often library materials and signage can appear confusing and overly technical,” said Mr Walker,

“By having the students from TAFE come in and not only identify the spaces that were important to them, but actually choose which words would go on the map, meant that it was accessible for all those who didn’t have a library background and it was refreshing for us to get an external perspective.”

Funded by the Australian Government, the AMEP provides free English language lessons to eligible migrants and humanitarian entrants aged 18 years and over. The program focuses on helping learners settle successfully in Australia by supporting them with employment, further training and study pathways and connecting with the community.

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