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CUNY LIBRARIES ARE OPEN both ONLINE and on campus! We are open online for reference & instruction. E-resources are fully available. CUNY Libraries physical spaces are also open for quiet study, computers and wifi, materials pickup, and more. Please note that library plans are subject to change based on the evolving pandemic situation and plans at each campus. At this time, due to the pandemic, campus access (including libraries) may be restricted to each campus’ current students, faculty and staff. Some libraries require reservations. Please check our College Libraries page for details about the library you plan to visit.

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Library Licensing Guide: Accessibility [Updated 2021]

Accessibility and Licensing at CUNY

Accessibility LogoCUNY affirms its commitment to making it's web-based, electronic content accessible. CUNY is further committed to a strategy of product enhancements that will keep pace with changing technology, accessibility guidelines, and regulations.

CUNY uses the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.0, AA conformance level as its accessibility standard.

Assistive Tools

Here is a link to on-demand, text only version of the this website. [Text Only display]

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

What is WCAG and why should you care?

  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created to help define how to make web content more accessible with the goal of providing a single shared standard.
  • WCAG 2.0 are the most widely-accepted set of recommendations and the Revised 508 Standards are based on WCAG 2.0.
  • When WCAG guidelines are followed they improve usability for everyone.
  • WCAG 1.0 focused heavily on the techniques for accomplishing accessibility, especially as related to HTML. 
  • Subsequent versions of WCAG focused more heavily on the principles of accessibility, making them more flexible, and encourages developers to think through the process of accessibility conceptually.
  • WCAG 2.0 is based on four main guiding principles of accessibility known by the acronym POUR perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

POUR [Updated 2020]

There are four main guiding principles of accessibility upon which WCAG has been built.  These four principles are known by the acronym POUR for perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.  POUR is a way of approaching web accessibility by breaking it down into these four main aspects. Many of the technology challenges faced by disabled people/people with disabilities can be described using one of the POUR principles. Read to learn more about POUR.

Means the user can identify content and interface elements by means of the senses. For many users, this means perceiving a system primarily visually, while for others, perceivability may be a matter of sound or touch.

Perceivable problem examples:

  • A website's navigation consists of a number of links that are displayed in a different order from page to page. If a user has to relearn basic navigation for each page, how can she effectively move through the website?
  • A Word document contains a number of non-English words and phrases. If the languages are not indicated, how can assistive technology present the text correctly?

Perceivable solutions:

Text Alternatives
  • Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.
Time-based Media
  • Provide alternatives for time-based media.
Adaptable
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.
Distinguishable
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

Means that a user can successfully use controls, buttons, navigation, and other interactive elements. For many users this means using assistive technology like voice recognition, keyboards, screen readers etc.

Operable problem examples:

  • Mouse-dependent web content will be inaccessible to a person cannot use a standard mouse.
  • People with low or no vision also relay on the functionality of the keyboard. They may be able to manipulate a mouse just fine, but it doesn't do them much good because they can't see where to click on the screen. The keyboard is much easier for a person who is blind to manipulate.

Operable solutions

Keyboard Accessible
  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Keyboard accessibility is one of the most important principles of Web accessibility because it cuts across disability types and technologies
Enough Time
  • Provide users enough time to read and use content.
Seizures
  • Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.
  • Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

Users should be able to comprehend the content, and learn and remember how to use your OER site. Your OER should be consistent in its presentation and format, predictable in its design and usage patterns, and appropriate to the audience in its voice and tone.

Understandable problem examples:

  • A website's navigation consists of a number of links that are displayed in a different order from page to page. If a user has to relearn basic navigation for each page, how can they effectively move through your OER?
  • A site makes use of numerous abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. If these are never defined, how can users with disabilities (and others) understand the content?

Understandable solutions

Readable
  • Make text content readable and understandable.
Predictable
  • Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.
Input Assistance
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users, allowing them to choose the technology they use to interact with websites, online documents, multimedia, and other information formats. Users should be allowed to choose their own technologies to access OER content.

Robust problem examples:

  • A website requires a specific version of a web browser to make use of its features. If a user doesn't or can't use that browser, how can that user experience the features of the site?
  • A document format is inaccessible to a screen reader on a particular operating system. If a user employs that OS for day-to-day tasks, how can she gain access to the document?

Robust solutions:

  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

Read the actual WCAG POUR guides: Perceivable external link., Operable external link. , Understandableexternal link. and Robust external link..

Accessibility sites at CUNY

Checklist

[Word version of checklist]

These checklists and guidelines were adapted from an ASCLA ALA presentation by the Accessibility for Electronic Media Committee (William Reed, Committee Chair, Susanne Bjorner, Simon J.M. Healey, Valerie Lewis, Michael Marlin, Adina Joyce Mulliken from CUNY’s Hunter, and Brian Rankin) titled “Think Accessible Before You Buy” Questions to Ask to Ensure that the Electronic Resources Your Library Plans to Purchase are Accessible.” 

Electronic Database and Computer Software Accessibility Evaluation

Use the following evaluation standards when your library is ready to evaluate the accessibility of non-Web based databases and computer software.

  1. Can the product be effectively operated only using a keyboard?
  1. Can you use the product while running adaptive technology or user enabled accessibility options?
  1. Does the product have any of its own useful accessibility features to assist users?
  1. If using adaptive technology, can users distinguish where they are on the interface?
  1. Have controls and functions for operating the software been properly labeled or described?
  1. Are images associated with certain user actions (ex: save, search) consistent throughout the program?
  1. Can all text be read when using adaptive technology, especially screen magnifiers and readers?
  1. Can any animations be disabled without interfering with the product’s performance?
  1.  Are there text equivalents for any animations or images?
  1. Is color used alone to convey meaning? Can users still operate and use the product if color is removed?
  1. If users can adjust screen colors, do the color choices allow for a variety of contrasts?
  1. Can any elements on the display that blink or flash be disabled without effecting use of the product?
  1. Can adaptive technology users effectively enter information where appropriate?

Internet and Web-based Content Accessibility Evaluation

Use the following evaluation standards when your library is ready to evaluate the accessibility of any Internet or Web-based content, or considering potential Web site designs.

  1. For anything on a web page that is not text, is there a text equivalent for that item?
  1. Is synchronized captioning, audio descriptions, or other equivalent provided for presentations that utilize both audio and video at the same time?
  1. If color is removed, can the web site still be effectively used? 
  1. Does the web page allow users to specify how the page is displayed within the browser?
  1. If a link is embedded in an image, is there an equivalent text link?
  1. If information is displayed using a table(s), are there header rows so screen reader users can navigate the table?
  1. If frames are used, are they accurately text labeled?
  1. Can any elements on the display that blink or flash be disabled without effecting access to the web content?
  1. If the web site does not conform to acceptable and approved accessibility standards, is there a text only equivalent of the web site?
  1. If scripting is used, such as JAVA, etc., is there a text equivalent so adaptive technology, like screen readers, can read the information?
  1. If a page uses a special applet, plug-in, or application to view information, is there a link on the same page for users to download the utility they need in order to access and display the information?
  1. If online forms are used, can people using adaptive technology fill in and submit all the required information?
  1. Is there a way for users, especially those using screen readers to skip repetitive navigational links?
  1. If users are given a certain amount of time for an action or response, is there any indication how much time they have left or an option to request more time?
  1. Is there a help page or easily identifiable contact for users who need further assistance?

Big TEN Academic Alliance Library E-Resources Accessibility Testing

What is a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)? [Updated 2021]

A VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template®) is a reporting format that enables vendors to document their product's conformance with relevant accessibility standards.

The Accessibility Conformance Report (ACR) based on the ITI VPAT® is the leading global reporting format for assisting buyers and sellers in identifying information and communications technology (ICT) products and services with accessibility features. Version 2 of the VPAT was expanded to include the leading ICT accessibility standards: Section 508 (U.S.), EN 301 549 (EU), and W3C/WAI WCAG.

ITI remains committed to maintaining the market relevance of the VPAT. We will continue to assess and respond to global developments in ICT accessibility standardization as appropriate.

  • A VPAT is a vendor generated statement (using the required template) that provides relevant information on how a vendor’s product or service claims to conform to the Section 508 Standards.
  • The VPAT was designed to provide information on how a product or service conforms to the Section 508 Accessibility Standards (from the U.S. Access Board) for Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) in a consistent fashion and format. In general, Vendors should generate a VPAT whenever they develop products or services that are determined to be EIT.

In each VPAT, the vendor is expected to make specific statements, in simple understandable (recommended) language, about how their product or service meets the requirements of the Section 508 Standards (section by section, and paragraph by paragraph)

There are various types of VPATs. Here are blank copies of each version of VPAT with detailed explanations of each.

There are based on:

VPAT® Version 2.4 (February 2020)

Consistent with the original VPAT, version 2.4 provides a column for recording conformance to each provision of a standard or guideline relevant to a product or service. Manufacturers or vendors declare the degree of conformance using one of four conformance levels: supports; partially supports; does not support; or not applicable. Note that, in a previous update of the VPAT, “partially supports” replaced “supports with exceptions.” This change was made at the request of representatives of the U.S. Access Board. Version 2.4 also includes a column for providing a more detailed explanation for each reported conformance level.

In response to user feedback, ITI created four different editions of the VPAT, enabling ICT manufacturers and vendors to create Accessibility Conformance Reports focused on the standards relevant to specific markets and contract requirements:

  • VPAT 2.4 508: Revised Section 508 standards – the U.S. Federal accessibility standard
  • VPAT 2.4 EU: EN 301 549 – the European Union’s “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe”
  • VPAT 2.4 WCAG: WCAG 2.1 or ISO/IEC 40500 – W3C/WAI’s recently updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
  • VPAT 2.4 INT: Incorporate all three of the above standards

These are VPATs collected from vendors we partner with Centrally.

If you get a VPAT from a vendor, please send a copy to Amy Wolfe, OLS Accessibility Librarian amy.wolfe@cuny.edu for inclusion on this list.

VPATs of CUNY resources (licensed & unlicensed)

There are over 50 DBs which CUNY gets from EBSCOHost which the above VPAT covers.

  1. Art Abstracts (H.W. Wilson)
  2. Academic Search Complete
  3. Applied Science & Technology Abstracts (H.W. Wilson)
  4. Applied Science & Technology Source
  5. Art Museum Image Gallery
  6. Biography Index Retrospective: 1946-1983 (H.W. Wilson)
  7. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson)
  8. Book Review Digest Plus (H.W. Wilson)
  9. Book Review Digest Retrospective: 1903-1982 (H.W. Wilson)
  10. Business Source Complete
  11. Communication & Mass Media Complete
  12. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)
  13. EconLit
  14. Education Source
  15. ERIC
  16. Essay and General Literature Index (H.W. Wilson)
  17. Essay and General Literature Retrospective (H.W. Wilson)
  18. General Science Full Text (H.W. Wilson)
  19. GreenFILE
  20. Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition
  21. Humanities Source
  22. Legal Source
  23. Library & Information Science Source
  24. MAS Ultra - School Edition
  25. Military & Government Collection
  26. Professional Development Collection
  27. PsycARTICLES
  28. PsycINFO
  29. Readers' Guide Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson)
  30. Readers' Guide Retrospective: 1890-1982 (H.W. Wilson)
  31. Regional Business News
  32. Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson)
  33. Social Sciences Index Retrospective: 1907-1983 (H.W. Wilson)
  34. AHFS Consumer Medication Information
  35. The Serials Directory
  36. SocINDEX with Full Text
  37. Teacher Reference Center
  38. LGBT Life with Full Text
  39. MasterFILE Complete
  40. CINAHL Complete
  41. MEDLINE Complete
  42. American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 1
  43. American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 2
  44. American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 3
  45. American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 4
  46. American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 5
  47. MLA Directory of Periodicals
  48. MLA International Bibliography
  49. MasterFILE Reference eBook Collection
  50. Biography Reference eBook Collection

Accessibility Statement on Site:

ISKME is committed to making its OERC Platform usable and accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability, and provides a number of features that support the accessibility of the OERC Platform:

  • The “Learner Options” feature allows you to change the display of some elements of the site to meet your unique viewing preferences. The feature is found in the top right-hand corner of each page of the OERC Platform. You can find a step by step guide with images here: https://www.oercommons.org/authoring/1504-oer-commons-learner-options/view.
  • Pages on the OERC Platform are intended to be compatible with screen readers and accessible to keyboard navigation. Additionally, authoring tools on the OERC Platform are built with well-formed HTML semantic tagging structures whenever possible, which include ARIA long descriptions, image captions, and embedded A11y accessibility mode microdata.
  • The OERC Platform supports several AFA and A11y metadata fields. Use the Accessibility criteria in Advanced Search to find resources that include features such as ARIA long descriptions, transcripts, and captions, or that support specific learning modes such as auditory, visual, or textual.

Limitations to Accessibility. While ISKME strives to ensure the accessibility of the OERC Platform, you may find some limitations.

Please report any problems to the ISKME support team at OER Commons (info@oercommons.org). For fastest processing, please include the phrase “Accessibility Request” in the subject line and in the body of your message.

 

NOTE: March 13, 2019  CAST.org (Center for Applied Special Technology) announced a new partnership with ISKME to improve the availability and accessibility of OERs. CAST, founded in 1984, has earned international recognition for its development of innovative approaches to expanding educational opportunities for all individuals based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Accessibility Statement on Site:

ISKME is committed to making its OERC Platform usable and accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability, and provides a number of features that support the accessibility of the OERC Platform:

  • The “Learner Options” feature allows you to change the display of some elements of the site to meet your unique viewing preferences. The feature is found in the top right-hand corner of each page of the OERC Platform. You can find a step by step guide with images here: https://www.oercommons.org/authoring/1504-oer-commons-learner-options/view.
  • Pages on the OERC Platform are intended to be compatible with screen readers and accessible to keyboard navigation. Additionally, authoring tools on the OERC Platform are built with well-formed HTML semantic tagging structures whenever possible, which include ARIA long descriptions, image captions, and embedded A11y accessibility mode microdata.
  • The OERC Platform supports several AFA and A11y metadata fields. Use the Accessibility criteria in Advanced Search to find resources that include features such as ARIA long descriptions, transcripts, and captions, or that support specific learning modes such as auditory, visual, or textual.

Limitations to Accessibility. While ISKME strives to ensure the accessibility of the OERC Platform, you may find some limitations.

Please report any problems to the ISKME support team at OER Commons (info@oercommons.org). For fastest processing, please include the phrase “Accessibility Request” in the subject line and in the body of your message.

 

NOTE: March 13, 2019  CAST.org (Center for Applied Special Technology) announced a new partnership with ISKME to improve the availability and accessibility of OERs. CAST, founded in 1984, has earned international recognition for its development of innovative approaches to expanding educational opportunities for all individuals based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

IMPORTANT NOTE ON ACCESSIBILITY:
To use assistive technology (screen readers, OpenDyslexic typeface) you must turn on "Accessibility Mode" in your ProQuest profile.
You only need to do this once and the system will remember your settings.
After you logon for off-campus access:

  1. Select Settings in the top navigation bar
  2. In drop down menu select "Profile"
  3. Go to "Accessibility Mode" and select the Enable Accessibility Mode radio button
  4. Select "I agree to ProQuest's Privacy Policy and Terms of Service." and hit "Save Changes" button.

As of March 2019, Zotero does not have a VPAT.
On a Zotero forum the following was stated when a user asked if there was a VPAT:
"People are using Zotero with NVDA on Windows fairly successfully, though we're aware of areas where we need to improve.

In our limited testing, the current version of Zotero does not work particularly well with VoiceOver on macOS. (The current version of Zotero is based on Firefox, which has only very basic VoiceOver support.)

We're in the process of porting Zotero to a new architecture, and we're hoping to address many accessibility issues at the same time. We're also working on a new version of the web library with much better accessibility support.