2020 DLF Forum: Building Community With DLF’s Digital Accessibility Working Group

Join us online! November 9th-13th, 2020.Though DLF is best known for our signature event, the annual DLF Forum, our working groups collaborate year round. Long before COVID-19 introduced the concept of “Zoom fatigue” into our lives, DLF’s working groups organized across institutional and geographical boundaries, building community while apart, to get work done. Made possible through the support of our institutional members, working groups are the efforts of a committed community of practitioners, using DLF as a framework for action, engaged in problem-solving in a variety of digital library subfields from project management and assessment to labor and accessibility.

Once we decided that the 2020 DLF Forum and affiliated events would be held in a virtual format, it meant that our working groups wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet in person for their typical working meals that take place throughout the Forum; however, this year’s virtual format means that we’ll have more new DLF Forum attendees than ever before. Because DLF’s working groups are open to ALL, regardless of whether you’re affiliated with a DLF member institution or not, we asked leaders of the DLF working groups to introduce their groups and the work they do to the new and returning members of the #DLFvillage in a series of blogs and videos.

We’ll share these working group updates in the days leading to this year’s DLF Forum.

The DLF Digital Accessibility Working Group (DAWG) is a group dedicated to exploring issues around ensuring efficient access for disabled people in information organizations. Within DAWG, there are three subgroups: Advocacy and Education, IT and Development, and Policies and Workflows. These three areas were selected because they were identified as essential to ensuring a holistic approach to the adoption, implementation, and maintenance of inclusive practices for disabled users, staff, and other information organization stakeholders.

DAWG subscribes to the idea that in order for technology, or “the digital library,” to be accessible, it is not enough that the software, hardware, and accompanying resources be accessible. Instead, there is a need within organizations and outside vendors for:

  1. Cultural change regarding awareness of the disability rights efforts of the past and present via continuing education and advocacy work.
  2. Adaptable policies and workflows that are inclusive of disabled people and enforced on an institutional level via allocation of financial, legal, and human resources.
  3. Emphasis on inclusive design and development practices to ensure that technologies are designed to be accessible, as well as to be maintained sustainably with accessibility in mind.

Though only founded within the last year, DAWG has managed to initiate meaningful dialogue around these issues while acting as a source of community for information professionals looking to navigate the challenges posed, both by the field in general, as well as the more contemporary challenges posed by COVID-19.

IT and Development

The IT and Development subgroup focuses on specific software, hardware, and development practices associated with information organizations. From a list of suggested software, we’ve already developed a deep-dive into the accessibility of Zoom, and are gathering information on many other software applications. Ultimately, we’d like to develop a system for the GLAM community to easily ask questions or share information about the accessibility of software, building off the existing networks and centers for information for AT professionals. Some of the other projects we’ve done include the Accessible Documentation guidelines and a collection of Accessibility Auditing resources. For more information, contact Debbie Krahmer dkrahmer@colgate.edu

Advocacy and Education

Libraries and information organizations have a responsibility to proactively build features into our products and services that recognizes the value and rights of people with disabilities. This requires continual learning as well as creative and collaborative advocacy.  As a new working group, the advocacy and education subgroup seeks contributors who welcome complexity and responsibility.  This means, when possible, fixing a regular, monthly meeting time in our calendars, as well as reserving time throughout the month to do a bit of work.

Most recently, this sub-group hosted a kick-off webinar, Inclusive Design and Accessible Exhibits: Some Guidance for Libraries, Galleries, and Museums by Sina Bahram.

Advocacy and Continuing Education wiki page

For information, contact Mark Weiler (mweiler@wlu.ca)

Policies and Workflows

GLAM organizations incorporate a wide variety of policies and workflows, with varying levels of success. This subgroup is collecting best practices, implementation processes, and educational materials to help individuals in GLAM organizations authentically implement accessibility policies and workflows in digital libraries.

Some of the work we have embarked on thus far has included defining the scope of digital library policies and workflows, conducting an environmental scan of policies and workflows, and creating a toolkit to be used with digital libraries. The toolkit will contain a reflection of many of the conversations the subgroup has had revolving around the successful implementation of policies and workflows – and not only the suggested content GLAM institutions will want to adopt.

The individuals working together represent a wide variety of types of institutions, locations, and experience. Each individual has had responsibilities in their home organization to implement accessible policies and workflows in regards to digital libraries. For scholars and practitioners alike, the work being conducted to create recommendations represents the practical knowledge others need.

To learn more about the work, completed resources are available on the DLF Wiki Subpage for Policies and Workflows. To join in the conversation, please email the co-chairs, Gabriel Galson at galson@temple.edu and Amy Vecchione at amyvecchione@boisestate.edu.

Getting Involved

If you want to learn more about the work DAWG is doing, check out the Digital Accessibility Group wiki. You can also join the listserv (Google Group), attend meetings (updates about meeting times are shared via the listserv, and join the Slack channel. For additional questions regarding the group, feel free to email Jasmine Clark at jasmine.l.clark@temple.edu.

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