Accessibility in eResources Acquisitions

Kirsten Ostergaard

Doralyn Rossmann

@doralyn on Twitter,

Montana State University

Presentation Goals

  • Define web accessibility and why it's important

  • Review legislation

  • Review current standards for web accessibility

  • Identify strategies for collection development that support access

This presentation will not cover...

  • Steps to conduct an accessibility audit

  • Tools to evaluate web accessibility

  • Accessibility of physical spaces or print collections

But rather,

  • Identify steps you can take locally

  • Look at opportunities for collaboration across the profession and with vendors

  • VPAT repository


We are not lawyers!


Usability of a product, service, environment or facility by people with the widest range of capabilities

- International Organization for Standardization

Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web.

- W3C, Web Accessibility Initiative

Web Accessibility

  • Equal access

  • Equal opportunity

  • Laws & policies

Why is it important?

  • Visual

  • Auditory

  • Cognitive

  • Learning

  • Physical 

  • Speech

Who benefits?

Curb cuts

Closed captioning

Examples of inaccessibility

  • Poorly labeled page elements

  • PDFs which don't work with screen readers

  • Multimedia resources without closed captioning

Existing legislation

Rehabilitation Act (1973): Section 504

No qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance.

Rehabilitation Act:

Section 508

Requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities

Americans with Disabilities Act 1990

  • Prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity

  • In employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.

  • Requires that state and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities

  • Including public education

ADA Title II

2012 Report of the ARL Joint Task Force on Services to Patrons with Print Disabilities

  • Require publishers to comply with legal requirements for accessibility and implement industry best practices for accessibility

  • Include language in publisher and vendor contracts to address accessibility requirements

  • Request VPATs

VPAT = Voluntary Product Accessibility Template

About VPATs

Provides information on how a product or service claims to conform to the Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for Electronic and Information Technology (EIT).

VPAT Repository

Libraries for Universal Accessibility

from Laura DeLancey

Best standards for web accessibility...

WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)

  1. Perceivable

  2. Operable

  3. Understandable

  4. Robust

Level A, AA, & AAA Compliance

University of Montana

  • Agreement with US Department of Education, OCR

  • Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility policy

(Reminder: We're at Montana State University)

What can you do locally?

Modify your collection development policy

The Montana State University Library is committed to providing web accessible resources to individuals with disabilities. We make every effort to gather information and prioritize the acquisitions of web accessible electronic resources, except in cases where a product or service would be fundamentally altered.

Let vendors know accessibility is important

Example: streaming media

  • Captions should be included

  • Transcripts insufficient

  • Designate that captions can be added by a third party

  • Local case: Harvard, MIT, NAD

Request information about WCAG 2.0 compliance

ProQuest WCAG

Request VPAT forms

Sample VPAT

Acquisitions budget => Access budget

Document eResource compliance

Licensing language & renewal addenda

Conditionality clause & idemnification

Designate liaison to disability services


  1. Modify collection development policy

  2. Email vendors requesting WCAG 2.0 conformance and a VPAT form

  3. Document contacts

  4. New licensing language

  5. At renewal time, modify license agreement with addenda addressing web accessibility

web accessibility


better service

Thank you!

Kirsten Ostergaard


Doralyn Rossmann

@doralyn on Twitter,

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