Really open to all: Web accessibility of OA publications and OER (Organisers: Open Access Working Group, Working Group on Open Educational Resources)

This workshop addresses the issue of web accessibility (or universal design in information and communication technology), i.e. usability of websites and online documents by people with disabilities.

For example, a blind person uses a screen reader to read a journal article, but journal articles are often not optimized for users of assistive technologies. Images lack alternative text, headings are not styled as headings, tables lack designated head rows, etc. People with low vision, or the colour-blind, have other challenges.

Audio materials have to be made accessible for the hearing impaired. Video materials have to be made accessible both for the visually impaired and the hearing impaired.

The universal design of ICT is primarily meant to benefit people with disabilities, but it also benefits other groups: e.g. people who use mobile devices or have a slow internet connection.

Research libraries (help) produce materials that are openly accessible (OA), i.e. there are no price barriers to access. It is also important that the same materials do not have usability barriers.

A research library’s role, when it comes to the production of OA journals, books and educational materials, is often that of an advisor/facilitator. Most of the formatting is done by authors and editors, who have little capacity to follow up technical requirements and may be unaware of accessibility issues.

What can research libraries do in order to improve the accessibility of OA materials they are helping to produce? And what place does user engagement have in this?