Open Conference Systems at Dalhousie, International Association of University Libraries, 2016 Conference

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Accessibility and Libraries in the Internet Era: Space, E- Collections, and the Web
Channarong Intahchomphoo, Margo Jeske

Last modified: 2016-03-23


Libraries in all nations of the world have populations who suffer from visual, hearing, speech, and cognitive impairments and many Libraries already accommodate the needs of many users who suffer from accessibility challenges.


Spatial accessibility is the first basic accommodation that libraries can facilitate. Libraries can cater to patrons who have mobility and physical access needs by providing capabilities such as automatic door buttons and low-height study tables, chairs and drinking water fountains.


A second kind of accommodation need is found in access to e-collections. The dramatically increasing volume of e-resources in the Internet era creates an enormous barrier for users with impairments. Some e-books do not integrate well with the assistive technology and adaptive technology that users with impartments require. For example, the Kurzweil 3000 application allows its users to manage their personal digital content, highlight text, insert notes, listen to e-books via the text-to-speech, and magnify text. However, many publishers’ e-book planforms do not allow users with impairments to use all the accessibility functionalities of the Kurtzweil application. This creates a significant information access barrier for library patrons with impairments, often requiring them to spend more time to absorb information, compared to users with minor or no impairments.


The third kind of accommodation need relates to web content. To respect the Web Accessibility laws in Canada, at both federal and provincial levels, law libraries have to ensure that all web content complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, a well-established international guideline and standard.


This presentation will demonstrate how the University of Ottawa’s Brian Dickson Law Library has been addressing these accessibility challenges and providing accommodations for space, e-collections, and the Web for their users with impairments. We will also give a brief live technical demonstration of how to make law library websites compliant with WCAG 2.0 and how to use the assistive technologies to help users with impairments. This session does not require the audience to have high level of computer technical knowledge. The presentation will be given by the Library’s Director and a law librarian.