22 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 302 2021 inaccessible remote learning, were massive. Data from surveys and social media studies reported high levels of concern and stress among students with disabilities related to whether online learning would be accessible,8 and a broad population of university students (not only those with disabilities) experienced increased stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.9 However, even without a future pandemic, there is likely to be increased demand for accessing library resources without physically coming to the library, and instead delivering that content in digital format, even for people without disabilities. How can you plan for virtual access to library collections? How can you plan for surges in accessibility demand? In a recent study of university directors of digital accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been no “surge” plans or policies in place for how to address increased demands for accessibility.10 Even when accessibility services are generally done within the university (“in- house”), contacts should be made, and perhaps retainer contracts should be put in place with outside vendors, so that when increased needs occur for services such as captioning video, remediating documents, or American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation for online events, the surge capacity is already in place. Even by the end of 2020, none of the directors of digital accessibility interviewed in the study had created any new policies for managing the shift to virtual operations, or for triaging and prioritizing the various accessibility needs in a situation where all of the needs could not be met.11 The results of that study demonstrate good approaches and bad approaches that were used during the pandemic. Some universities had success with offering training courses on digital accessibility to faculty and staff during semester breaks when the enrollment and interest was much higher.12 In addition, small (but competitive) grants were made to faculty who proposed ways to rework their classes for a strictly virtual format, and most of those proposals included accessibility components. In the area of procurement, however, there were many failures during the pandemic. Most research libraries are familiar by now with how
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