Written by Anne Hawkins, Coordinator – Copyright & Open Access
The Library is committed to supporting equitable access to our collections, services and spaces for all students.
Equitable access can mean very different things to different people. For a student with a vision impairment it may mean that material is available in an electronic format which can be read by a screen reader. For a student with a hearing impairment it may mean that closed captions are available for videos. While for a student with a physical disability it may mean help with retrieving items from the collection.
How can the Library support accessibility?
Electronic resources and Course Readings
The Library provides access to electronic resources such as ebooks, online journals, databases and streaming videos. Electronic resources typically provide these benefits:
- 24/7 online availability– they can be accessed on and off campus providing convenient access for all students. This access can provide greater equity for students with a physical disability.
- Screen readable– many resources are compatible with screen reader software with text to speech functionality. This software is not just used for students who are blind or vision impaired but is also commonly used by students with a learning difficulty such as dyslexia.
- Standards– functionality varies but the majority of Library vendors aim to meet accessibility standards such as ensuring that their sites meet the web content accessibility guidelines and that born digital resources are appropriately marked up and have alt text to describe images. Closed captioning of streaming videos is made available where possible.
When selecting resources for a course you should consider if the material is already available in an electronic format. There will always be times when a copy of a physical resource, such as a scanned book chapter, will need to be provided to students. The Library supports this via Course Readings. It is important that any copies are only made available to students via Course Readings and not directly uploaded to the MyUni site. This is because the Library not only ensures that all copies comply with copyright but we also process scans so that they are screen readable.
Liaison Librarian consultations
The Liaison Librarian service is a great resource to support students with a disability. Guidance from Faculty specific Liaison Librarians can help students find the right resources and access Library services. One-on-one consultations can be booked via the Liaison Librarian Book an appointment service. Consultations can be adapted to meet individual student need, which may be a need for a longer appointment, or meeting in an alternative location such as the Adaptive Technology Suite.
Physical access to the Library and resources
All Library branches are accessible for students who have a disability or medical condition that impacts mobility. Request options are also available for all students. Physical resources can be requested to be collected from the Requests Pick Up shelf in the Library. Scans of individual book chapters and journal articles which are supplied via email can also be requested (it’s important to remember these scans are not screen readable).
Alternative arrangements may be negotiated for students depending on their need. This may include home delivery of Library resources and/or extended loan periods. It is recommended that any student who may have difficulty accessing the Library or requiring alternative arrangements contact Student Life Disability Support.
In some cases providing equitable access to material requires a copy to be made in an alternative format. This can only be done with permission from the copyright owner or under an exception in the Copyright Act. At the end of 2017 two new exceptions were added to the Act to ensure that Australia met our obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The two exceptions went far broader than the treaty required by covering all types of copyright material and all disabilities.
If you are considering making a copy of material for a student with a disability then the Library can offer advice on the application of the exceptions. This includes if your proposed use is covered by an exception or if there may be a better way to provide access. For more information please contact the Copyright & Open Access Coordinator.