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Making journals accessible front & back: examining open journal systems at CSU Northridge

Laurie Borchard (Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, California, United States)
Michael Biondo (Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, California, United States)
Stephen Kutay (Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, California, United States)
David Morck (Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, California, United States)
Andrew Philip Weiss (Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles, California, United States)

OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives

ISSN: 1065-075X

Article publication date: 9 February 2015

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine Public Knowledge Project (PKP) Open Journal Systems (OJS) for its overall web accessibility and compliance with the Federal Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility and Compliance Act, also known as Section 508.

Design/methodology/approach

Twenty-one individual web pages in the CSUN test instance of PKP’s OJS version 2.4.0 used in three back-end journal development user roles were examined using three web-accessibility tools (WAVE, Fangs, Functional Accessibility Evaluator). Errors in accessibility were then logged and mapped to specific Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) criteria.

Findings

In all, 202 accessibility errors were reported across the 21 OJS pages selected for testing. Because of this, the OJS cannot be efficiently utilized by assistive technologies and therefore does not pass the minimal level of acceptability as described in the WCAG 2.0. However, the authors found that the types of errors reported in this study could be simply and effectively remedied.

Research limitations/implications

Further studies will need to corroborate, on a larger scale, the problems of accessibility found in the specific pages. Only three user roles were examined; other roles will need to be analyzed for their own problems with accessibility. Finally, although specific errors were noted, most can be easily fixed.

Practical implications

There is an important need for accessible software design. In the case of CSUN, one of the campus partners will be better served by improving the web accessibility of the authors’ online open access journals.

Originality/value

Although many studies and analyses of Section 508 compliance of front-facing web resources have been conducted, very few appear to address the back-end of such tools. This is the first to examine what problems in accessibility journal users with disabilities might encounter as OJS system administrators, journal managers or journal editors.

Keywords

Citation

Borchard, L., Biondo, M., Kutay, S., Morck, D. and Weiss, A.P. (2015), "Making journals accessible front & back: examining open journal systems at CSU Northridge", OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 35-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/OCLC-02-2014-0013

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited