RLI 281 Executive Summary 4 DECEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC E-book accessibility may involve as many as three different considerations: the accessibility of the content, the accessibility of the reading platform, and the accessibility of the device. Most of the user-facing adaptive technology tools require electronic text to be properly encoded for the tool to work. It is this basic requirement that is the greatest barrier to making print library collections and library-mediated digital resources accessible. The US Copyright Act recognizes the importance of making works accessible and provides several specific exceptions that support library efforts to create derivative works for this purpose, including section 107 (fair use), section 110(8) (certain performances and displays) and section 121 (Chafee Amendment). A recent court decision, The Authors Guild, Inc., et al., v. HathiTrust, et al., strongly affirms that libraries may rely upon fair use and the Chafee Amendment of the Copyright Act to make works accessible. Recently, there have been positive updates to Canadian copyright law, the Copyright Modernization Act, regarding educational use in general and accessibility in particular. Provisions in the act will make the following changes, according to the Library of Parliament summary: the bill provides “amendments to the exceptions available to educational institutions, libraries, museums, archives and persons with a ‘perceptual disability’ in order to facilitate the use of digital technologies and make the provisions more technologically neutral.”4 Content provided by libraries is increasingly acquired digitally through a license that provides specific terms of use. These terms may significantly limit libraries’ ability to make materials accessible—including journals, databases, e-books, and online textbooks—as accessibility features may not be built into the vendor platform or the terms and conditions of the license. Universal design in instruction or learning (UDI or UDL) recognizes that designing the classroom for maximum inclusion of diverse learning styles and abilities, without sacrificing either standards or aesthetics, will bring unanticipated benefits to the entire population served. Studies have demonstrated that, in addition to being more sustainable, integrated accessibility features are also far less costly in the long run. Moreover, there are many instances of accessible technologies leading true innovation and widespread adoption, “including the typewriter, the telephone, email, the PDA, speech synthesis and recognition. These innovations resulted from the need to meet accessibility needs of individuals.”5 Recommendations The growing demand for instructional e-content and burgeoning digital library collections requires greater collaboration amongst all institutional partners, including academic leadership, research libraries, disability services, and information technology services. These partners should share knowledge, define roles, and become knowledgeable about print disabilities, in order to effectively serve users, to meet the requirements of federal and provincial law, to fulfill mission, and to move the market. Members of the research library community should collaborate within each institution and actively participate in cross-institutional and cross-industry efforts to advance universal design standards for digital information resources, library-mediated or otherwise. Such collaboration will also be most cost effective in acquiring accessible information products and services.
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