Yale Library joins advocacy efforts for equitable access to e-resources

  • Dark blue round logo on blue and white ground that reads "Library Accessibility Alliance" in outer circle. At center is a graphic that shows diagram of figure in blue and white.
April 5, 2023

Academic libraries acquire books, journals, videos, and an array of other resources in online formats. These electronic resources (e-resources) provide convenient on-screen access to these materials.

But not necessarily for everyone.

In a world where electronic resources are the dominant means of access, Daniel Dollar, associate university librarian for scholarly resources, asks, “How accessible are e-resources for those with disabilities? What steps can we take to improve the usability of e-resources for all users?”

According to one Yale student who uses a screen reader to access materials, one way in which libraries can improve accessibility is “by making sure outside e-resources are easy to navigate with a keyboard and that they have Optical Character Recognition.”

The Library Accessibility Alliance (LAA) is a multiconsortium formed to promote widespread use of these methods and others to ensure equal access to all library users. In January 2023, the Ivy Plus Library Confederation (IPLC), of which Yale Library is a member, joined the LAA. Dollar and Galadriel Chilton, IPLC’s director of collections initiatives, serve on the LAA Steering Group.­

As its primary work, the LAA funds third-party accessibility evaluations of electronic resources. Evaluation results are available to the public on an “e-resources testing page” and also provide vendors with accessibility audits. Vendors then have the opportunity to meet with evaluators for additional information and guidance on improving the accessibility of their products. 

The LAA has also drafted model licensing language on accessibility in order to aid libraries in their negotiations with electronic resource vendors and publishers. The alliance also creates toolkits and provides information about other resources related to library accessibility.

Yale’s participation in the LAA partnership extends across the university. In addition to Dollar and Chilton, Laura Sider, associate director for frontline services at Yale Library, serves on the Communication and Outreach Committee. Jordan Colbert, associate director of student accessibility services at Yale, serves on the E-Resource Testing Committee. Michael Vaughn, associate director of digital accessibility at Yale information technology services, and Kevin Merriman, director of collection management, technical services, and access services at Marx Library, serve on the Impact and Analysis Committee.

As Dollar notes, LAA is a wonderful example of libraries working in partnership to improve accessibility, which benefits all users but is critically important to users with disabilities.

Yale students with disabilities can work with Student Accessibility Services to request accessible electronic material or other accommodations.

Learn more about the Library Accessibility Alliance and its e-resources testing. Read more about the IPLC’s partnership with LAA on the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation website.

—Deborah Cannarella

Image: Logo of the Library Accessibility Alliance