Defining, evaluating, and achieving accessible library resources: A review of theories and methods

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to review the library and information science literature related to the accessibility of digital resources by individuals with mental, physical or other impairments, to assess the state of research in the field and to explore new avenues for investigation. Design/methodology/approach: There is an increasingly rich body of literature surrounding digital accessibility in libraries, ranging from practical guides for authors of Web content, to principles of universal design, to the ethical considerations of libraries subscribing to packages of digital content, to critical examinations of the accessibility guidelines themselves. This review is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive; less attention is given to studies of specific tools that will become quickly outdated, and more attention is given to underlying considerations and approaches that will remain relevant even as technologies change. Findings: Many libraries and vendors have taken steps to provide equal access to websites and electronic resources in recent years. While the literature reflects an increasing level of critical engagement with concepts around disability and diversity, it also demonstrates methodological weaknesses in assessment projects that do not lead to meaningful accessibility. Originality/value: This review offers theoretical and practical perspectives from recent work that can assist librarians in planning and decision-making, as they deal with an increasingly complex landscape of digital resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-438
Number of pages14
JournalReference Services Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 21 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Accessibility
  • Disabilities
  • Disability theory
  • Diversity
  • Libraries
  • Social justice


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