Making eBooks more accessible – latest news

We told you in a previous post about a project to audit and improve the accessibility of eBooks, which has now been completed. Sue Smith and Vicky Dobson from Library Disability Support worked on the eBook Accessibility Audit project as part of a team from across the UK. This also included Jamie Phillips from Leeds Beckett University, and colleagues from the University of Kent, the University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University and York St John University.  The project is one of three shortlisted in the Project Initiative Category for the 2017 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing with the awards ceremony to be held at the London Book Fair on 14 March.

eBooks are digital versions of printed books and the Library has lots of them available. There are many advantages to eBooks. For example they are available both on and off-campus and most titles can be accessed by multiple users at the same time.

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The eBook Accessibility Audit looked at how accessible eBooks are for students with print impairments – difficulties accessing printed text, usually due to a visual or physical impairment or a Specific Learning Difficulty such as dyslexia.

Although eBooks have the potential to be very accessible and if they are compatible with assistive software they can be adapted to the needs of individual students, unfortunately, due to the design of some eBooks, this is not always the case and they are not all fully accessible.

The eBook audit set out to identify how accessible 44 of the most widely used eBook platforms in UK Higher Education are, including 15 of the platforms we subscribe to at Leeds Beckett University.

The results are now available on the eBook Accessibility Audit website. If you would like to know how accessible a particular eBook collection is, the Individual Platform Feedback Reports section of the website has a report for each platform detailing how well it met each of the accessibility criteria. The table on page 6 of each report gives a useful overview of this.

If you’re wondering what makes an eBook accessible, you can find out here: Key elements of eBook accessibility

The next steps in the project are to work with providers to achieve improvements in accessibility and increase awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst Library staff to help them support students using eBooks.

 

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New in at number 1!

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Headingley Library

We have two new book displays currently on show in the Library, showcasing the top 10 most issued books at each Library in 2016.

New in at number 1 at both Headingley and Sheila Silver Library is the ever popular Social Research Methods by Alan Bryman

 

The lists include a number of research books and key texts and reflect the different courses taught at the two campuses, although there are a number of titles that appear on both.

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Sheila Silver Library

All of the books featured, are included in Resource (Reading) Lists on a number of courses. They are also provided as eBooks where an eBook is available.

Feel free to borrow one of the titles from the display – if you’ve not already done so!

 

 

 

 

Promoting diversity by making eBooks more accessible

Earlier this month Sue Smith and Vicky Dobson, who work in the Library Disability Support Team, traveled to London to attend the presentation of the 2016 CILIP CDEG Diversity Award. They had been shortlisted for this award as part of a team from across the UK currently coordinating a national eBook Accessibility Audit. The team also includes colleagues from the University of Kent, the University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University and York St John University.

eBooks are digital versions of printed books and the Library has lots of them available. There are many advantages to eBooks. For example they are available both on and off-campus and most titles can be accessed by multiple users at the same time.

The eBook Accessibility Audit is looking at how accessible eBooks are for students with print impairments – difficulties accessing printed text, usually due to a visual or physical impairment or a Specific Learning Difficulty such as dyslexia.

eBooks have the potential to be very accessible. The flexibility offered by their electronic format means that, if they are compatible with assistive software, they can be adapted to the needs of individual students. Unfortunately, due to the design of some eBooks, this is not always the case and they are not all fully accessible. For example, in some cases the text can only be enlarged to a limited extent or it may be incompatible with screen reading software, making eBooks inaccessible to many disabled students. Accessibility also varies between different eBook platforms (interfaces used to access eBooks).

The ultimate goal of the eBook Accessibility Audit is for students with print impairments to face fewer barriers in accessing the information they need to succeed at university. The project aims to achieve this by:

  • Assessing the accessibility strengths and areas for improvement of different eBook platforms
  • Working with providers to achieve improvements in accessibility
  • Making information available on the accessibility features of different eBook platforms to help users optimise accessibility when reading them
  • Increasing awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst Library staff to help them support students using eBooks
  • Increasing awareness of the accessibility features of different eBook platforms amongst tutors to help them minimise barriers for disabled learners when designing resource lists

Although they didn’t win the Diversity Award, Sue and Vicky received a Highly Commended certificate on behalf of the eBook Accessibility Audit project team. They are pictured receiving the certificate, along with fellow project team member Alistair McNaught from JISC:

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Whilst Sue, Vicky and other colleagues work with providers to achieve improved accessibility in the design and publishing of eBooks, there are lots of ways in which people using eBooks can customise them to make them easier to read. These include changing the text size and colour, changing the background colour, and having the text read aloud to you. Instructions on how to do this are available on the eBooks Accessibility page.

If you have any queries about using eBooks, please contact us.