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DEI SPARK! Staff Event Focuses on Accessibility in the Library and Creating Accessible Content

October 12, 2021

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are fundamental values of the Drexel University Libraries (DUL). And like many other libraries, the DUL is committed to prioritizing accessibility and creating an inclusive and accessible experience for all its clients.

For example, the Drexel Libraries assesses owned and licensed resources, as well as availability of publications, videos, oral histories, databases and specialized collections, to determine ways to improve awareness of and access to resources.

Staff education and development is also crucial to building an inclusive and accessible environment—both online and in person—and the Libraries is using its SPARK! internal staff event series as a new venue for DEI education.

Called DEI SPARK!, this new internal event series for Libraries staff will feature sessions about issues of diversity, equity and inclusions in libraries and are intended to deepen personal and professional connections to them.  

The Libraries’ first DEI SPARK! event, held September 29, 2021, featured guest speaker Abigail Maley, Drexel Online Learning Support Specialist During the interactive virtual workshop, Maley discussed the benefits and challenges of creating accessible content and the importance of accessibility in libraries.  

“Accessible content benefits everyone. When you create accessible content, everyone wins,” said Maley during the session. “Accessible content appeals to disabled, non-disabled and temporarily disabled students too. Let’s use a real-world example for how creating accommodations helps everyone. Think about the sidewalk cutouts. They were made for wheelchairs, but those cutouts help people with strollers… You’re helping everyone by making content accessible… But also, inclusion is critical. Let’s get as many people on the same playing field as possible.”  

Maley also shared best practices for creating accessible content, offering tips and information to help Libraries staff improve the usability of the Libraries’ website, presentations, library guides, tutorials and other resources.

“Broken links for example, are part of accessibility. If a link is broken, the resource is inaccessible,” Maley explained. “Alt-text is also important. All images either need to have a description or they need to be listed as decorative so screen readers do not skip over them.”

Maley then ended the session with a few interactive exercises to give staff an opportunity to practice a few of the tips discussed during the session.

Future DEI SPARK! events will focus on issues including wellness and self-care, diversity issues and more.