Making the Case for Accessibility
There are legal, ethical, and practical reasons for making library materials accessible as possible for all users. However, implementing and maintaining accessibility improvements can be a challenge since they require community buy-in, investment, resource development, and supportive policy.
In the webinar, “Wading in the WCAG Waters: First Steps Toward Facilitating Accessibility Change at your Institution,” Michele Bromley, the IT Accessibility Coordinator for the Office of Information Technology at Portland State University (PSU), provides an excellent introduction to how individuals can take first steps toward real accessibility change. The following resources can also help you build a case and find advocacy partners for digital accessibility improvements in your library.
See Accessibility Standards and Legislation for information about international, federal, and state requirements for digital accessibility.
Often, accessibility legislation references standards developed by international web standards organizations. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops international standards for the Web: HTML, CSS, and many more. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops standards and support materials to help understand and implement accessibility.
Most colleges and universities employ an ADA Coordinator and an accessibility statement for the institution at large. Information technology departments often have written standards which serve both as a starting point and as expectations for digital accessibility at your library.
Policies and Statements
It can be useful when writing an accessibility policy or statement to look at the work done by other institutions to see what works for your institution. This list focuses on other Alliance schools and then highlights non-Alliance schools with particularly notable aspects of their policies. It is broken up thematically, looking at policies, statements, LibGuide guidelines, and institutional repositories. Some libraries are heavily tied to their IT department so their policies are inextricable from their school-wide policies, others have policies for different aspects of their libraries; those and other scenarios are reflected in the policies below. For further guidance on what to include in a statement, the article Making Electronic Resources Accessible in Libraries (Adobe PDF) by Sheryl Burgstahler, founder and director of UW DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology), provides an excellent overview.
Selected Alliance Institutions
- Central Oregon Community College
School-wide policy that explains specifications and updates the school is taking.
- Chemeketa Community College
Library guidance on physical and digital resources, including statements from various vendors.
- Lane Community College
Library policies, identifies accommodations and assistance for a wide variety of services.
- Lewis & Clark College
Library policies on adaptive technology availability, reference services, and other library services.
- Mt. Hood Community College
Library statement of ADA Compliance, gives guidance on adaptive technologies available and closed captioning on streaming media.
- Oregon State University
Library policy on various services that points to school-wide services for remediation of library resources.
- Portland Community College
Library ADA Compliance policy that highlights services and resources, and guidelines for library website maintenance and design.
- Portland State University
Library policies focused on access to physical materials and spaces, with information for reporting a website or resource problem.
- Reed College
Library policies with information on accessing accessible forms of materials in databases, requesting accessible texts, and using a document converter.
- Southern Oregon University
Library statement and policy including specifications for online accessibility and future plans.
- University of Oregon
Library statement and policy primarily focused on facilities and physical materials.
- University of Portland
Library policies around building and materials access, attention paid specifically to course reserves and alternate formats.
- University of Washington, Bothell
School-wide digital accessibility plan that sets benchmarks, review, and implementation plans.
- Washington State University
Library statement and policies including discussion of training staff and student workers.
- Western Washington University
Statement that describes library website standards and issues with third-party vendors, including incorporating complaints into vendor evaluation process.
Other University and College Libraries
- Duke University
Website accessibility-specific policy, sets dates for accessible pages and procedure for access to legacy content.
- Harvard University
Web accessibility-specific statement, including coverage, plans forward.
- Michigan State University
Provides info for Remediation Requests; defines accessibility in instruction, communication, research, and business processes; describe features of universal design.
- Syracuse University Libraries Accessibility
Offering orientation to library and school sites for those using assistive technology and web navigation service.
- Yale University Library Web Accessibility Guidelines
Oriented to content creators to ensure accessibility of materials produced by library staff, with specific elements and concerns highlighted.