Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Institutional Repository as Boon for the Print Disabled

Many publishers will only allow authors to post the author's own version in the institutional repository, not the final pdf. Since pdfs are not always accessible to the print disabled, I wondered whether institutional repositories filled with word documents and the like, just might, by happenstance, also greatly enhance accessibility to the scholarly literature for the print disabled. Here are the comments of local expert, CILS Librarian Stephen Blaeser, on the subject (quoted with permission):

"The creation of institutional repositories could be a potential boon for accessible material for the print disabled. Especially, if the file format which they are produced in are accessible. PDFs may or may not be accessible depending on how they are scanned/created. At CILS, we sometimes run image only PDFs through OCR software to make them accessible. I think it would be nice to have some kind of documentation available to the institution creating these repositories so they can get the most bang for their buck.

Those institutions who do not want to make their documents available except in PDF should take a look at the Adobe Accessibility information"

"Also, I should mention that universal design also plays an important part in making information accessible. You may have a
perfectly accessible document but if you are unable to find it easily it can be very difficult and frustrating for a print disabled users to find and thus access it (or anyone else for that matter). A few resources about universal design can be viewed at"

About CILS: " CILS is a library service for students and instructors with special needs at publicly funded colleges and institutes in British Columbia. Our clients are people who cannot use conventional print because of visual, learning or physical disabilities. "

Yet another reason to create and fill those institutional repositories!

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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