E-book Accessibility Evaluations
This paper illustrates how the level of accessibility of e-textbooks can be evaluated using a process developed by Human Factors researchers. We report the results from accessibility evaluations of 140 publically available e-textbooks from the California Open Online Library for Education (COOL4ed). Each textbook was evaluated for adherence to 15 SkillsCommons accessibility checkpoints developed by the MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) project using accessibility manuals and a scoring system developed for e-textbooks. Some books were made available in more than one format (e.g., EPUB, HTML, or PDF), and each e-textbook was evaluated in the formats that it was made available. Moreover, each book was evaluated for accessibility using assistive technologies (AT) and using non-assistive technologies (NAT). A total of 166 evaluation reports using non-assistive technologies and 163 evaluation reports using assistive technologies were produced. We found that e-textbooks in HTML and EPUB formats were more accessible than PDF. We also examined how the technical content of the textbook differed in terms of accessibility. There was no difference in accessibility scores between books with STEM versus no STEM content; however, when examining the “passing rate” of the books, there were differences depending upon whether the evaluation was performed using NAT or AT. Overall, this project provides evidence that methodology for evaluating e-textbooks can be applied to a broad library of books. Providing accessibility scores rather than simply whether the e-textbook is compliant with the American Disability Act (ADA) can be useful to a variety of stakeholders.
KeywordsAccessibility Accessibility evaluations E-textbook accessibility E-textbook usability Electronic book accessibility
Special thanks to the Center for Usability in Design and Accessibility for supporting this project. Partial funding for this project was provided by the State of California, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the California Open Online Library for Education.
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