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Accessibility of the JU Repository platform for persons with disabilities

The JU’s Disability Support Service (DSS) in cooperation with the Jagiellonian Library is working on the accessibility of scientific publications taking into account the needs of persons with disabilities as part of the project titled ‘A repository of open access to the scientific and teaching resources developed at the JU’.

grafika do informacji o Repozytorium UJ

The new website of the JU Repository is being prepared following the most recent WCAG 2.1 recommendations as well as the Act of 19 July 2019 on ensuring accessibility for persons with special needs. Specialists in assistive technologies from the DSS maintain ongoing cooperation with representatives of the company designing the website, consulting them about all WCAG 2.1 recommendations in order to ensure the website’s maximum accessibility for all its users.

The objective of collecting resources in the JU Repository is dissemination of the scientific and research work of academics from the Jagiellonian University. The Repository is a directory of collections containing journals, doctoral dissertations, publishing series, research data, JU regulations, elaborations developed during delivery of various projects at the Jagiellonian University as well as the bibliography (reference literature) of publications by JU academics. A sizeable part of such materials is progressively being prepared by DSS staff so that they are also accessible to persons with sight disability.

The DSS has a team of assistants preparing materials digitalised in the project. The teleworking staff have been given thorough training by DSS specialists in both scientific material adaptation and disability awareness. It is worth stressing that the overriding principle followed by the DSS team working on material preparation is seeking the highest possible quality of the adaptations. This is evidenced by multiple document verification and attention given to maintaining a uniform adaptation method prioritising quality over quantity, i.e. focus on a careful and reliable task performance.

By March 2020, 276 publications were adapted, a total of 17,000 pages, a collection still expanded on a regular basis. The thematic scope of the publications is broad and the works come from different scientific fields. Footnotes accompanying virtually each of the publications are in many languages: English, German, Scandinavian ones, as well as the Cyrillic script, while the level of text difficulty is high. The materials often include tables, charts and illustrations, some of each are developed by specialists in assistive technologies from the DSS and consulted with persons with sight disability, and then adapted to the tactile graphic form.

In order to ensure the high quality of the adaptations, the DSS team have developed a guide publication titled Adapting scientific publications to the needs of persons with sight disability. It contains clear and detailed rules to be followed when preparing adaptations of books and scientific articles, which makes it a valuable tutorial helpful for all those who ensure the accessibility of academic material. The guide has been written with academic teachers in mind, so that they can prepare accessible materials related to their courses for all their students, taking into account the needs of persons with sight disability. It includes guidelines on making texts, presentations, graphics, maps, charts and diagrams as well as films fully understandable for blind and partially sighted students. The brochure is also training material for the assistants cooperating with the DSS who scan and adapt teaching materials for persons with sight disability. The publication is available on the DSS website.

If you cannot find an accessible publication in the JU Repository and you would like our team to adapt it to the needs of persons with sight disability, please contact us using the form available at website (in Polish). Each such request will be processed with due attention given to the reasonable adaptation criterion.

As part of the project, the DSS team also deliver a number of regular training sessions in the form of presentations held at the Jagiellonian Library for persons interested in open resources. They focus on the difficulties experienced by persons with disabilities using open resources as well as the related opportunities. The training sessions show how content is read by screen reading software used by blind persons on a daily basis. The training presentations on open resource accessibility to the needs of persons with disabilities are accompanied by lectures concerning general aspects of the notion of open access as well as copyright.