This resource is meant for librarians and library students—especially those who work in scholarly communication. It presents mini “case studies” demonstrating how library workers are thinking about web accessibility as they undertake open access publishing, manage institutional repositories, and assemble digital collections. Included also are case studies that may provide inspiration for scholarly communication practitioners.
To be clear, this resource isn’t a how-to manual for achieving accessibility. I would join others in arguing that accessibility isn’t a thing that can be “achieved” or “checked off a list.” Rather, it is a process of constant reevaluation, of better understanding the needs of the people libraries are meant to serve. With that said, this resource seeks to inspire further conversation in scholarly communication about how we can adapt our practices to ensure the free and equitable sharing of information.
From the founders of the open access movement, we have inherited an inclusive vision for our profession. The Budapest Open Access Initiative called for “unrestricted, free access to scholarly research” while the Cape Town Open Education Declaration imagined “a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge.” Though high-minded, when we have put these visions into practice, the library profession has often recreated ableist, western, White systems of publication.
This resource places particular emphasis on the ways that scholarly communication needs to evolve to accommodate people with disabilities. As Timothy Dolmage describes in Academic Ableism. In academia, we too often assume that our audiences are able-bodied and that disability is the antithesis of higher education. Rather than reconfiguring the systems that we use, we tacitly support a medical model of disability that places the responsibility on individuals for gaining access to texts, images, and resources online. These assumptions need to shift if we are to further the vision of the original advocates of open access.