How can library databases be made more accessible?
Principles of universal design should be employed in making library databases more accessible to patrons with disabilities. "Universal design" means that rather than designing your services and facility for the average user, you design them for people with a broad range of abilities and disabilities. The following questions can help guide database developers to design library databases that are universally accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
- Can the library's electronic resources, including online catalogs, indexes, full-text databases, and CD-ROMs, be accessed with a variety of adaptive computer technologies, such as screen readers and speech synthesizers?
- Do electronic resources with images and sound provide text alternatives or information to these formats?
- Are speech output systems available to patrons with low vision, blindness, and learning disabilities?
- Is the library's web page designed in an accessible format (i.e., clear navigation paths, thoughtful use of color, consistency, and simplicity)?
- Do collection development policy statements specifically state that electronic products should be evaluated for accessibility as part of the purchasing process?
- Are librarians prepared to assist patrons with electronic resources that they cannot access by providing research consultations or materials in other formats?
- To what extent are keyboard equivalents available for all mouse functions?
For more information on this topic, consult Universal Access: Making Library Resources Accessible to People with Disabilities.