Providing access to information is one of the most important functions of any library. For an academic library it might be the most important. Interestingly, however, many libraries do not include accessibility in their collection management policies. When it comes to physical spaces we are certainly ADA compliant. But when it comes to electronic resources we are more likely to rely on vendors to be create resources that are accessible to people with all types of ability…even though any librarian can tell you that many online resources have accessibility issues even for patrons without physical limitations. Ebooks are especially problematic for many of our users, for a wide variety of reasons. So why are we relying on vendors to set the parameters for accessible library resources? Well, it certainly could at least partly be due to the fact that we are not able to command our vendors to put their resources in specific formats or to include specific functions that improve accessibility. The decision could come down to deciding not to include a resource in the library collection simply because it is not accessible to all potential users. Where do we draw the line? When is a resource valuable enough to the majority that we effectively tell our less-abled users “oh well, too bad”? Is that ever appropriate?
I feel as though I should add a note to say that this post is not complete. I am just beginning to research the accessibility issues at the UNT library, joined a university-wide accessibility workgroup and started going over our policies to see what is currently included. As I get deeper in I may update this post or simply write new posts but may reference this one.