The following article (open access) appears in the latest issue of Insights: the UKSG journal.
Insights: the UKSG journal.
Vol. 30, No. 2 (July 2017)
For students with print impairments, e-books offer great potential to remove barriers to information. However, for various reasons, not all e-books are fully accessible. Significant variability exists between different platforms and titles.
To benchmark e-book accessibility, a group of library and disability professionals across the UK higher education sector organized a crowdsourced e-book accessibility audit, using simple criteria to capture end-user experiences. The audit can act as a framework for librarians and e-book providers to discuss accessibility and effect improvements. This audit was of 275 e-books from 65 publishers across 44 platforms, resulting in an interactive spreadsheet on the project website and individual feedback reports for each platform.
Most of the volunteer auditors had little accessibility expertise so a by-product of the process was training to introduce key accessibility concepts and support for those using the audit tool. This paper explores the process, including key findings from a follow-up questionnaire for testers. The results indicate increased awareness of e-book accessibility and empathy for disabled learners and an appetite for further training, in particular using e-books with screen reading and text-to-speech software. The study suggests crowdsourced research can be highly effective on multiple levels.
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