Now that we have our high-level musings on accessible publishing in libraries out of the way (check out the ‘accessibility’ category to see the previous posts on the topic), I think it’s time to start talking about the nitty-gritty. Sure, we all agree that providing accessible digital content is good, but how do we do it? It should be pretty obvious by now that I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share. I’m starting off with what I know best – publishing in HTML – but I’m hoping to also write about accessible publishing in PDF form, as well as accessibility in retrospective journal digitization projects.
Much of my experience with making web content accessible comes from working with Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ). DSQ was the first journal to partner with OSU Libraries’ Publishing Program, and as a result, it has been strongly influential in how our program has developed. Because of the field of study, accessibility was front-and-center from day one: the journal content had to be accessible to readers, and the journal platform had to be accessible to authors, reviewers, and editors. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around for the initial work with Open Journal Systems, so I don’t know what the conversations about platform accessibility looked like. If we were to adopt a new publishing platform today, I would ask the director of OSU’s Web Accessibility Center (in the Disability Services Office of Student Life) to check it out, so maybe that’s what happened.
Choosing a format
What I do know is that, to avoid the accessibility problems you tend to find in PDFs (more about that in a future post), we decided to take on the labor-intensive task of converting DSQ articles into HTML for publication. Continue reading