Four Resources To Improve Your Library’s Accessibility

Accessible is not Optional!


CMLE Guest Blogger: Carli Spina

Accessibility for individuals with disabilities is an important topic for any library. Not only is this a legal requirement for virtually all libraries, but it is also important to ensure that our libraries are welcoming and inclusive for all members of the community. This is particularly important when considering the way you offer your online materials. The four resources below make accessibility improvements approachable, no matter the staffing level of your library or the level of technical experience that you have.

  1. ARL’s Web Accessibility Toolkit – Though created and maintained by the Association of Research Libraries, this toolkit has resources that will be useful to those working in any kind of library. The toolkit includes definitions and background information as well as best practices and a step-by-step process for fostering accessibility at your library. In addition, it has a resources section that includes a detailed page on best practices and resources for adding captions to your library’s video content.
  2. WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool) – WebAIM offers a wide array of web accessibility tools, information, and resources, but if I had to pick just one to recommend, it would be WAVE. This tool makes it simple to do a quick accessibility test of any website for which you have the URL. The resulting report provides detailed information in a way that is easy to read. While this tool might not catch every single potential problem on your site, it is an excellent way to find particularly troublesome issues.
  3. Contrast Checker – One frequently overlooked aspect of accessibility is color contrast. This is important not only to those who are colorblind, but also for users who have low vision or are reading in low light. But, despite the fact that contrast is important to a large number of users, it is frequently ignored in the name of design aesthetics. This tool will not only allow you to check specific colors to ensure that they meet accessibility standards but will also let you save and share color pairs that work well (or poorly).
  4. The Principles of Universal Design poster by NC State University College of Design – This resource moves a bit beyond basic accessibility to the concept of Universal Design, which is design that is “usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaptation or specialized design.” The poster sets forth the seven principles that are central to Universal Design and offers multiple examples for each principle. Implementing these principles will not only help to make your library more accessible, but will also make it welcoming for the widest possible range of users from those who are in a rush or have their hands full to those for whom English is not their first language and beyond. This poster is a great crash course on the topic and will almost certainly spark ideas for ways to make your library more inclusive.

I hope these resources will help you to improve your library’s accessibility and introduce you to new tools that will streamline your processes. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter where I’m @CarliSpina.