Reviewed By: Jeana Clampitt, Javier Morales, Jennifer Nguyen
Link to article: http://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI/article/view/314
In this article, Kerry Falloon (2016) examines how academic libraries can ensure that their digital collections comply with federal regulations while meeting the needs of all users. She suggests a specific workflow that includes evaluation and marketing of digital materials. Falloon begins the article with a review of applicable regulations, including legal cases that have arisen when universities have failed to comply. Falloon then points to several existing guides which aim to assist librarians with making purchasing decisions. She discusses existing technologies, including specific products, and the benefit for all users of providing adaptable materials and technology. Then she presents a workflow model and discusses how it has been implemented at the City University of New York (CUNY), and specifically the College of Staten Island (CSI) Library. Finally, she discusses marketing, including the importance of signage and the use of LibGuides as a method of promotion.
Falloon states, “The purpose of this study is to educate acquisition librarians attempting to integrate best practices in evaluating the accessibility of acquired products and services into current workflows” (p. 2). In addition, the study aims to “provide a workflow model on how to ensure that a digital resource is evaluated and marketed for accessibility compliance” (p. 14).
These goals can be reframed as the following research questions:
RQ1: How can acquisitions librarians ensure that digital collections comply with accessibility regulations and are practical for all users?
RQ2: What are best practices for evaluating and marketing digital materials?
RQ3: What workflow model do librarians at the CSI Library use to ensure these goals are met?
Falloon evaluates electronic resources in regards to the implementation of new workflows. She states that “traditional workflows need to be broken down and redesigned into new workflows, with patron services as its goal” (p. 6). According to Falloon, doing so will allow libraries to be better able to keep the accessibility and universal design needs of patrons with disabilities at the forefront in all electronic resource decision-making processes.
To help with the facilitation of these new workflows, the CUNY-CSI Library used the Techniques for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS) as a model to help in the evaluation of product and service accessibility. If properly adopted by library staff, TERMS would help create new workflows that would better allow them to evaluate whether electronic resources are “accessible, adaptable, supportive, and can be used by patrons of all abilities.” (p. 6).
In the course of this wider study of the accessibility needs of patrons, the CUNY-CSI Library has made a concerted effort to prioritize new policies and procedures. Several resources are highlighted, including the ALA’s “Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources Resolution” policy and the ASCLA’s “Think Accessible Before You Buy” toolkit. These guides along with other resources can help librarians create more accessible content. They can then apply those skills to better evaluate the accessibility of other resources. The author also makes a point to note that accessibility isn’t limited to online resources. For example, library acquisitions staff often also handle the purchasing of hardware and software. This can include specialized equipment, such as screens that magnify text, large-print keyboards, or assistive programs that enable patrons to interact with electronic resources.
Falloon makes several recommendations, such as Zoom Text, a screen reader that serves several purposes. It can enlarge or enhance text and images on the screen, or even read aloud. Other recommendations include Kurzweil 3000, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and even built-in accessibility features found in Microsoft Office Suites. She argues that though several of these options would certainly require a significant investment on the part of the library, it would ultimately be worthwhile, if it better allows the library to assist a wider array of patrons.
FINDINGS & CONCLUSION
Falloon finds that though about 75% of resources acquired by the CUNY-CSI Library are electronic, they are not necessarily accessible. Acquisition and electronic resource librarians are not always mindful that new materials must adhere to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, or the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). “Acquisition and electronic resource librarians need to acquire knowledge of disability law compliance as it relates to product evaluations, purchasing decisions, marketing, and reviews” (p. 14). The article was written to enlighten said librarians of these issues and provide inclusive and accessible TERM steps, signage, and many electronic programs to check whether materials are accessible to those with disabilities.
Falloon provides an excellent overview of the current situation regarding accessibility of digital collections as well as suggestions for implementing a workflow that emphasizes evaluation and marketing of such materials. Suggestions for future studies include how other academic libraries are approaching the topic, as well as advancements in other types of tech tools.
There have been several advances in technology since this article was published, including the rising popularity of intelligent virtual assistants. These have the potential to increase accessibility for users with disabilities. One further question is whether they are being designed to meet accessibility regulations. Companies including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have incorporated accessibility settings into these products. They are similar to the settings Falloon discusses for the Windows desktop environment. Other new technologies that are starting to see adoption in libraries are virtual reality (e.g. Google Expeditions) and augmented reality (e.g. librARi). While Falloon focuses on resources for users, there have also been advancements in library management software and repositories (e.g. LIBERO, Alexandria, and ePrints). It remains to be seen which of these different types of technologies will become mainstream and how libraries will work to make them accessible to users and staff.
As technology continues to evolve, accessibility regulations will likely need to be revised to include new formats. Falloon writes that librarians need to be aware of these changes, but does not discuss how to best keep staff aware of updates. One solution would be to assign one or more staff members to track these changes. This could be done by periodically reviewing the ADA website (https://www.ada.gov/), subscribing to email updates from the United States Department of Justice (https://www.justice.gov/news), or following the DoJ (@TheJusticeDept) and organizations such as the Southeast ADA Center (@adasoutheast) on social media.
Falloon, K. A. (2016). Accessibility and inclusion issues in library acquisitions: A guideline to evaluating and marketing the accessibility of library e-resources. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion, 1, 1-16. Retrieved from http://publish.lib.umd.edu/IJIDI