Accessibility in Open Access Institutional Repositories

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Presentation from the Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library and Information Science (CIDLIS) at the University of Maryland on October 21, 2016. Despite the implied “access” in open access institutional repositories, digital repositories overall lack consistency in how they make information and content accessible to users. Inconsistency in metadata does not promote interoperability or discoverability between repositories and within the repository itself. Moreover, several institutional repositories do not make great effort to ensure content is accessible to users with disabilities by ignoring best practices in universal web development. Finally, repository users often lack a clear understanding of how to deposit their items into a repository with enriched metadata, what items the repository accepts in terms of file types, and what will be done to protect their data so it can be retrieved in the future. Therefore, within the greater umbrella of accessibility, the following areas should be prioritized: metadata standards to ensure universal discoverability; web development standards to ensure access to users with disabilities; policy development to provide transparency; and along with the aforementioned priorities, preservation standards to ensure that research is maintained for future generations.