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BC Library Conference 2020

F13 - Supporting Diversity of Reading: Accessibility and Usability in Libraries.

Friday, April 17, 2020 at 1:30 PM–2:15 PM EDT
Meeting Room #1
Session Description

With the revolution of ebooks and audiobooks, access to content for readers with print disabilities has exploded. The use of screen readers, refreshable braille displays and other assistive technologies allows us to make all content accessible. Libraries need to understand the issues surrounding various digital content, reading systems and assistive technologies in order to support the diverse reading needs of their users.

The National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS) is a digital public library of books for people with print disabilities in Canada, and an advocate for an accessible and equitable reading ecosystem for all Canadians. NNELS is spearheading work in educating and collaborating with publishers, vendors, people with print disabilities, libraries and other stakeholders to produce ‘born accessible’ content and to enhance reading diversity in Canadian public libraries. These initiatives are paving the way to an equitable reading landscape for Canadians with print disabilities. A key element of these initiatives is the direct participation of users with print disabilities, who are proving instrumental to understand how specific coding and design decisions impact the end user experience. Many of the obstacles impeding progress towards accessible public libraries can be more easily and swiftly overcome with systematic information about the main accessibility barriers. When ebooks and audiobooks are “born accessible,” and when reading systems are developed following accessibility standards, we can advance towards a more inclusive and equitable reading landscape.

Humanizing accessibility is a key element for creating awareness and enhancing access to digital content. This session will demonstrate first-hand the impact of inaccessible content and reading systems and speak to the progress of NNELS’ work in educating and collaborating with publishers, vendors, users with print disabilities, libraries and other stakeholders to produce material and reading systems that are truly “born accessible” for use by everyone.


Simon Jaeger, National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS)

Simon Jaeger is an Accessibility Tester with NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) from Nanaimo, BC. He was born completely blind and is a technology and accessibility enthusiast, audio producer, and an avid reader. He has experience with a wide variety of reading software and devices and excellent working knowledge of audio formats, as well as ten years of audio editing and production experience. Before his position as an accessibility tester with NNELS, he spent more than 5 years training visually-impaired clients to get the most out of their computers, smartphones and other assistive technology.

Laurie Davidson, BC Libraries Cooperative

Laurie Davidson is a Project Manager for NNELS and the Emerging Initiatives Coordinator for the BC Libraries Cooperative. She has more than 20 years of experience working with libraries in the areas of technology, licensing, project management and accessibility.