Pamela Scott, Library Specialist
In order to comply with ADA standards and make materials more accessible to our students, the Brookens Library began remediating all online reserve items for machine readability and accessibility during the Summer Session of 2018. Since fewer classes are offered during the summer, reserve requests are also lighter. This made it a good time to put new procedures and workflows into place.
There was a fairly steep learning curve at first. The library has posted PDFs on Blackboard for a number of years, but there had never been an attempt to make the documents accessible before now. "Vance spent a lot of time getting me up to speed on what to look for and how to make our PDFs accessible. My background in introductory web design, including classes in CSS and HTML, came in handy because I quickly found out that the coding for accessibility had many similarities with HTML," Pamela shared.
Once the Fall semester began, the number of requests increased, especially during the first two months of the semester. One of the library’s grad assistants, Taylor Vazquez, was trained in the remediation process, and she was a big help in keeping turnaround time low. Every time a faculty reserve request came in the library staff informed the professor of the new accessibility requirements and encouraged them to give as much lead time as possible on future requests since this added time to the workflow.
Because faculty often reuse favorite articles when they teach certain classes, the library keeps archives of what is posted online. The library staff have modified the file names to reflect whether or not the files have been remediated, which will streamline the process of posting items if they are used again.
After an entire year of making files accessible, the process is becoming more routine and taking less time as experience is gained. "We still need help from the Accessibility Office occasionally, particularly on files that contain lots of graphs and charts, but most of the time we are able to get files prepared and posted with only an extra day or two of turnaround time. Our faculty have been understanding of the additional time involved and appreciative of the results," Pamela Scott wrote.