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Improving academic library website accessibility for people with disabilities

Lisa Billingham (Library, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 10 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explain how Edith Cowan University (ECU) Library improved the accessibility of their web site, aiming for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 Level AA. It describes the results obtained.

Design/methodology/approach

Initial testing by consultants was conducted in October 2012. The web site was defined as all webpages which appear part of the library web site, including supplier webpages, plus pages from the university web site and library web site. Library staff applied the recommendations to pages which they could edit, and discussed the recommendations with suppliers to improve their product ' s accessibility. The web site was re-tested in June 2013.

Findings

ECU Library web site failed WCAG 2.0 Level A standard in the initial testing and re-testing. Many individual pages which failed initially passed the re-test. The smallest improvement was seen in suppliers’ web sites.

Practical implications

This paper could help libraries to improve web site accessibility, as it covers negotiating with suppliers to upgrade their web sites, plus upgrading editable webpages. It shows initial and re-test results, allowing libraries to compare their results to those of ECU. Legislation and guidelines state web sites should be accessible to all users and organisations providing non-accessible web sites risk being sued.

Social implications

A web site not complying with WCAG version 2.0 would be very difficult for people with disabilities to access. Upgrading ECU Library ' s web site will provide all users with more equal access to the resources.

Originality/value

This study describes problems in upgrading academic library webpages and related supplier web sites and organisation web site to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author acknowledges many colleagues who assisted with editing of the library webpages and supplier products to improve their accessibility.

Citation

Billingham, L. (2014), "Improving academic library website accessibility for people with disabilities", Library Management, Vol. 35 No. 8/9, pp. 565-581. https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-11-2013-0107

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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