Clifford Lynch. “COVID and the Evolving Innovation Landscape,” Opening plenary address given at Coalition for Networked Information Fall 2021 Membership Meeting (December 13, 2021).
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion Universiy
Accessibility of instructional materials and tools is vital for ensuring equity of access to students of all abilities. Accessibility in and of itself, however, does not entail usability, a challenge that is primarily concerned with the “how to’s” of providing a rich user experience in terms of ease of use and effectiveness in getting tasks done. Many peer-reviewed studies have shown that people with visual impairments typically require several minutes to complete basic online tasks on even some of the most accessible websites, compared to their sighted peers who can accomplish the same in a matter of few seconds through quick visual scans. Even in our own interview study with 40 visually-impaired students, we uncovered many of their everyday usability problems with technology, most notably that a majority of these students are unable to perform many of their daily course activities independently without external assistance from their fellow students, despite the associated technology being highly “accessible.” Furthermore, as the students had diverse eye conditions with visual acuities ranging from 20/70 to no light perception, they used different assistive technologies such as screen readers and screen magnifiers, and that, too, with different customizations; hence many of the students had unique requirements that often required in-person assistance from their instructors and peers. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, almost all interaction has been moved online, and therefore it has become challenging for not only these students seeking assistance but also for instructors trying to help these students remotely via conferencing software, which themselves have accessibility and usability issues. In this project briefing, we will share the findings from our study in detail. We will also discuss some of the critical research challenges involved in developing solutions to address these uncovered usability problems.
Information Policy Scholar-Practitioner & Visiting ARL-CARL Visiting Program Officer for Marrakesh Treaty Implementation
University of Toronto
Kasdorf & Associates, LLC
Associate Dean & Professor
University of Illinois
University of Windsor
University of Virginia
Association of Research Libraries
It is estimated that only 7% of published books are available in an accessible format. This session will present work on two projects that aim to address this injustice. In the first project, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) are working on the design and implementation of a pilot between academic research libraries in the US and Canada to digitize, describe, discover and deliver accessible texts to the print disabled. The pilot partners are Cornell University, Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the University of Florida and York University. The second project describes FRAME (Federated Repositories of Accessible Material for Education), an infrastructure project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (and, earlier, by the Institute for Museum and Library Services). The purpose of this project and the infrastructure we are creating is to reduce the duplication of effort in disability service offices at colleges and universities and thereby to enable faster, better service for those needing accessible learning materials. The university partners on this project are George Mason University, Northern Arizona University, Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University, Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois, the University of Virginia, and the University of Wisconsin. The repository partners are Bookshare, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive; the EMMA repository at the University of Virginia is the access point and hub. Next year, we plan to add the Ontario Council of University Libraries’ Accessible Content E-Portal to the list of repository partners, thereby test-driving the Marrakesh Treaty, about which there will be more from our Canadian friends.
Deanna Marcum and Roger Schonfeld of Ithaka S+R have recently published “Along Came Google”, the first in-depth study of the move to digitize collections of books at scale, tracing this work through the Google Books program and the creation of HathiTrust. This series of efforts have been of central concern to CNI’s work and took on new importance during the pandemic. There are enormous lessons here about the strategies for organizing and operating cross-organizational collaborations, the roles of commercial collaborators, and much that we can learn in thinking about future large-scale digital community investments. Clifford Lynch will engage Deanna and Roger in a discussion of some of the themes and findings developed in their book.
Evangelist, Trust and Identity
Finally, the research and education community is turning its attention to attributes. While attributes are the precious and privacy-preserving payloads of federated identity, much of our attention has been on the safety and security transports themselves. Now, with activities on deploying privacy-preserving identifiers and putting together normative bundles of attributes for standard purposes, the need for scalable access controls and verifiable credentials, and user-managed consent software emerging, the art of attributes is beginning. Special care is needed, as the task is hard. Developing shared semantics must strike a balance between diverse campus and international cultures and the need for close-enough agreements to trust each other. Extensible schema are needed to address unanticipated use cases, but need enough structure to ensure that extensions can be automatically processed. Metadata about attributes, from assurance to shelf-life, must be defined. As communities begin to develop shared attributes, this session will attempt to glean guidance on how to proceed. It will look at the successes and failures to date (drawing on eduPerson, preferred language, given name, end-entity tags, etc.) and the factors that influenced the outcomes. Both technological and process considerations will be examined. A few pearls of wisdom might be found.