Virginia Libraries’ Disability Services and Website Accessibility

By Dillyn Scott

Faculty Mentor: Professor Brenta Blevins

This project examined the disability services and website accessibility features provided by Virginia libraries. According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA), there is a “commitment to diversity and to accessibility of library and information services for all, including people with physical, sensory or mental disabilities, as reflected in the ALA policy on library services to people with disabilities (54.3.2)” (https://libguides.ala.org/equip-facilities-mgt/disabilities). During my research, however, it was discovered that while there are noteworthy efforts being made within Virginia libraries, that this commitment is not equal among them, nor is it the best it can be. My research proved this in several ways, but it is with great emphasis that I state that this project is not an attack on the Virginia library system or its individual members, but rather an examination in hopes that further efforts will be made so that all individuals in need can be better served. I performed qualitative observational research of library home pages. This involved crafting a database detailing whether or not these libraries clearly advertised and offered certain disability activities, services, and resources. I utilized a website accessibility evaluation tool known as WAVE to create a database analyzing libraries’ website structure and errors. I also performed quantitative research on municipality budgets and library funding and added this information to the observational database; resulting in my conclusion that money is not the sole contributing factor in the ability to provide services. Lastly, key recommendations were established as a result of my findings so that I can potentially share my research problems and solutions via my newly created Twitter project @openbookva. These infographics are the result of a semester-long research project completed in collaboration with Dr. Brenta Blevins and Mr. Peter Catlin.