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Case Study 7.9: Cornell University—An Accessibility Metadata Workflow

Cornell University shared their evolving practice with incorporating accessibility metadata into descriptions of items added to their institutional repository, eCommons. As an IR, eCommons circulates Cornell-related scholarship ranging from articles to datasets and media materials. The Cornell University Library partially moderates submissions to the IR, managing some uploads directly while also allowing approved submitters to upload their own content without in-depth review.


To help manage the plethora of materials in eCommons, the library began implementing accessibility metadata in 2019. New accessibility fields identify accessibility features, accessibility hazards, and an accessibility summary for the item in question. Controlled vocabulary values are suggested for each of these categories as follows


Accessibility Features

Accessibility Hazards

Accessibility Summary

  • alternativeText
  • bookmarks
  • captions
  • ChemML
  • describedMath
  • displayTransformability
  • highContrastAudio
  • highContrastDisplay
  • largePrint
  • longDescription
  • MathML
  • readingOrder
  • structuralNavigation
  • taggedPDF
  • transcript
  • unlocked
  • none
  • flashing
  • noFlashingHazard
  • motionSimulation
  • noMotionSimulationHazard
  • sound
  • noSoundHazard
  • none
  • unknown
  • Free text


Like other metadata in eCommons, these accessibility descriptions are supplied by librarians or submitters depending on the workflow. The library opted to make these selections public-facing partly to track remediation work in the IR and partly to communicate the library’s commitment to accessibility in the long term. Chloe McLaren, Metadata Projects Librarian, noted that the metadata serves several roles. For one, it communicates to submitters a range of relevant concerns when it comes to the accessibility of different media types. In addition, the metadata fields draw attention to an issue that can be quite invisible to many. The fields will also ideally help the library track availability of accessible content where related items have been cataloged in multiple systems.


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Case Study 7.9: Cornell University—An Accessibility Metadata Workflow by Talea Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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