Contact: Chris Cieslak

Manager, Web Services, ASCLA

(312) 280-4397


For Immediate Release

June 24, 2008

ASCLA introduces guide for libraries purchasing electronic resources

CHICAGO - The Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is announcingd the release of “Think Accessible Before You Buy,” which provides guidelines to ensure that the Web and software resources libraries purchase is accessible to all.

“As information providers, we know that information is only useful if someone can find it and is able read it,” stated Barbara Mates, ASCLA president. “With innovations in the area of electronic information and search tools, we’re able to find it but we are not there yet on the ‘reading’ part. We must all commit to assuring that information can be read by all patrons, including those using adaptive technologies.”

“The biggest challenge for Web accessibility is raising awareness that guidelines do exist that offer electronic information providers the methods and opportunity to create universally accessible information,” said William Reed, chair of the committee that developed the toolkit and assistant head of the Cleveland Public Library’s Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped.

While national accessibility standards do exist, they can be difficult to understand for those without a technical background. This toolkit builds on those standards, such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, and makes them easier to understand, with examples and definitions. Easy-to-use checklists are provided to make purchasing decisions simpler, and a glossary helps explain the terminology behind accessibility.

“Think Accessible Before You Buy” is available on the ASCLA web site at