Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2008

What We're Reading

By Susanne Bjørner, Bjørner & Associates

Guidelines and best practices top my reading list this quarter. I'm part of an ASCLA Ad Hoc Committee to study accessibility guidelines for electronic media, so I'm educating myself in Section 508 language and requirements. I found the "Quick Reference Guide to Section 508 Resource Documents" from the Accessibility Forum to be a good guide to definitions, regulations, and concerns, though it has not been "quick" to get through 150 pages. The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 from 1999 are currently in effect, though a working draft of version 2.0 is in the works.

Most people really don't want to wade through the detail in these documents, so the first aim of the ASCLA committee is to create a short document (checklist, tips, or questions with answers) for library staff to use in making informed purchases of electronic products that are usable by everyone. A work on accessibility and usability that I am actually enjoying is Universal Usability, a site created and maintained by Sarah Horton to accompany her book Access by Design: A Guide to Universal Usability for Web Designers (New Riders Pr., 2005).

These are clearly guidelines that librarians who are working on digitization projects should keep in mind. I'm also dipping into a series of best practices papers developed by the Collaborative Digitization Project at BCR, available for free by download.