New to the SCN: Accessibility Case Studies for SC Librarians and Practitioners

In the last couple of weeks we’ve started sharing works created for the Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN, ISKME OER Commons Hub coming soon), a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. IMLS provided funding for this project so that we can build a solid initial collection, and pay creators for their labor. These works are the result of our first CFP last fall (round 2 opening soon; see also Recent Posts). Today we’re sharing Accessibility Case Studies for Scholarly Communication Librarians and Practitioners by Talea Anderson, Scholarly Communication Librarian at Washington State University. This is great and valuable work that helps all of us better serve all of our constituents and we’re proud and happy that we can support it! We’ll continue sharing projects and announcements (like the next CFP) on the News page of our project site. Here’s Talea introducing her book:

As a scholarly communication librarian, I think all the time about making resources accessible but I’ll confess that I didn’t consider the needs of people with disabilities until more recently. This is an ironic confession because I was actually born blind and, following surgeries, grew up with low vision. However, I don’t use assistive devices apart from text magnification so I’ve been able to use the Internet largely barrier-free. Only when I read Raizel Liebler and Gregory Cunningham’s article about accessibility issues in institutional repositories did I really begin to think about how my profession contributes to a system that excludes certain people on the basis of ability.

When I initially started this project, I knew I wanted to collect a variety of case studies that show how library publishers, scholarly communication librarians, and similar professions are handling accessibility in their work. I chose this format because I find that accessibility training materials sometimes tend toward the technical how-to checklist and I wanted to do more storytelling that connects publishing practices to the lived experience of people with disabilities. Rather than sketching out the technical details of a perfectly accessible document or publication, I wanted to show a variety of people and organizations thinking through what accessibility means in their work.

Of course, it’s not just libraries that are engaging with accessibility. Many other groups and organizations are doing this work, and I tried to include some of these examples in my case studies. For instance, in 2020, I was able to attend the National Federation of the Blind’s annual convention and listen as people grappled with the intersections between racism and ableism. These conversations partially informed a chapter I wrote about inclusive alt text descriptions and I’m sure many other case studies could have been included as well. I hope that we in libraries can continue to look outside of our own organizations to learn about inclusive practices from the communities that we aim to serve.

Thank you to the Scholarly Communication Notebook for supporting this project and to the many people who kindly shared their experiences, perspectives, and resources via the case studies. It’s been a wonderful learning experience for me personally and I hope this resource proves useful to others as well.

About the Author

Talea Anderson is the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. She has participated in two excellent fellowship programs: the OER Research Fellowship with the Open Education Group in 2017/18, and the SPARC OE Leadership Program, Class of 2018. Talea is on Twitter at @anderstales.

New to the SCN: Copyright, Disability, and Accessibility

We’re excited to be developing the Scholarly Communication Notebook (SCN), a hub of open teaching and learning content on scholcomm topics that is both a complement to an open book-level introduction to scholarly communication librarianship (coming along) and a disciplinary and course community for inclusively sharing models and practices. We’re currently working with ISKME to establish the SCN as an OER Commons Hub, coming soon. With generous support from IMLS, we’re pleased to be able to financially support the development of model resources for the SCN. Last fall we issued a CFP (the first of three) for projects to support the initial population of the SCN, and we’re starting to see those projects come to fruition. Last week, we shared the first of a series of posts about those projects. Here, we’re excited to share the next one, by Associate Professor and the Head of Research & Instructional Services at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Carli Spina. Carli has created a rich set of resources to support instruction at the intersection of copyright, disability, and accessibility (currently in a Google folder while the SCN itself is in development). This is an important topic that’s seeing increased visibility, and that we’re proud to  support. Look for additional posts over the coming months, along with the second of three calls for proposals soon. Here’s Carli introducing her project:

Understanding how to make materials accessible to patrons is a vital topic for libraries, given that approximately 15% of the world’s population, or an estimated one billion people, is disabled. Beyond that, it is vital as we work to make access to information more equitable. While an important aspect of this work is understanding the technological aspect of making content accessible, I believe copyright is also central to this work. For that reason, it is important that librarians and others in the education field understand the copyright provisions in both U.S. and international law that apply to making copyrighted materials accessible for disabled individuals. With this knowledge, libraries can help to expand access to information to those who have been blocked from these resources in the past.

Because of this, I am grateful for Scholarly Communication Notebook’s support in creating open educational resources on the intersection of disability, accessibility, and copyright with a particular focus on U.S. law. I designed the materials to be used both in graduate courses related to copyright or accessibility and by practitioners interested in learning more on the topic. Topics covered include the Chafee Amendment and how it has changed post-Marrakesh Treaty, the role of accessibility in the Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust decision, the importance of the Marrakesh Treaty for international efforts to make materials accessible across borders, and how licensing provisions can impact these various rights. The resources include videos explaining the key points of each topic, along with editable slide decks for those who wish to build on the existing materials, activities and options for assignments, recommended pre-class readings, discussion prompts, and related resources for those who want to learn more on the topics introduced in this OER module. There are also teaching notes for those interested in using the module in a class they are teaching.

It is my hope that these materials will help to introduce these topics at the intersection of disability, accessibility, and copyright to interested learners in a variety of settings. I hope that they are of use and that interested instructors will be able to adapt and even expand these materials to fit their courses. And, I hope that they might even spark an interest in accessibility for those who do not have much familiarity with the topic.

About the Author

Carli Spina is an Associate Professor and the Head of Research & Instructional Services at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Formerly, Carli was the Head Librarian for Assessment & Outreach at the Boston College Libraries. She’s on Twitter at @CarliSpina.