Several schools have begun using templates and accessibility training to encourage students to follow accessibility practices when writing their theses and dissertations (ETDs). As these documents frequently are deposited in institutional repositories, libraries can support accessibility efforts through coordination with graduate programs.
As of 2021, the Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame “strongly encourages” students to use provided templates for Word and LaTeX files when preparing their ETDs. In addition, they ask students to make use of heading styles, embed fonts when creating PDFs, and write descriptive captions for figures.
Mississippi State University (MSU) Libraries collaborates with the university’s Graduate School to ensure compliance with their web accessibility policy for digital archival content. To encourage students to follow accessibility practices for ETDs, the libraries provide access to an accessible Word template, an accessible LaTeX template, and accompanying standards.
Montana State University (MSU) also makes use of Word and LaTeX templates for ETDs. In addition, they provide students with a discussion of accessibility for theses and dissertations. For instance, the video, “ETD Formatting – Intro to Accessibility and Templates,” walks students through accessibility measures in Word.
By supporting use of templates and accessibility training for students, libraries can populate IRs and databases like ProQuest with more accessible content. Ideally, this work will also normalize conversations in academia about how best to serve the needs of readers, researchers, and users with disabilities.