The EBSCO Story
As a leading discovery service provider for libraries, millions of users around the world access EBSCO eBooks every year on EBSCOhost, an intuitive online research platform. It is our mission to ensure that all users can easily access EBSCO eBooks to help achieve their academic, personal, and professional goals.
For EBSCO eBooks, the ASPIRE project began during a time of intense focus on accessibility in 2018. We had been revamping our product development and testing processes to increase the accessibility of our site and to change the mindset of our entire software development team. But we were just learning how to talk about accessibility and the ASPIRE project was instrumental in helping us understand what information is important to both users and libraries.
Providing clear, useful, and centralized information about accessibility is of critical importance regardless of the actual state of a product’s accessibility; openly stating known abilities and limitations saves end users and librarians hours of trial and error trying to determine how to achieve their goals and will ultimately result in a more satisfactory and successful end user experience.
...openly stating known abilities and limitations saves end users and librarians hours of trial and error...
As our accessibility efforts evolved, we developed a better sense of the people we are serving and what information is most useful to them. We simplified our language as much as possible, to ensure it would be consumable by a user or librarian who may not be familiar with our products. We created navigation recommendations for various browser and screen reader combinations in a table with proper markup to ensure it could be read by a screen reader and other assistive technologies. We also included recommendations about how users can make the best of their experience with our product, such as by leveraging the EPUB format and taking advantage of DRM-free chapter downloads.
With broad training across our product team, we are now confident shortening our response times to users because so many people on our team can now answer questions, which at one time was such a specialized skill.
We hope this information saves librarians and end users significant time, so that using our products is an efficient and positive experience for all our users.
The ASPIRE project was an important part of our accessibility education as a company, and we now seek to share that knowledge to drive improvements throughout the content life-cycle. ASPIRE highlights a key consideration in online information resources: the difference between the accessibility of the platform and the accessibility of the content itself. We have made huge strides on the platform side and accessibility is now a built-in part of product development. We are now very focused upstream, working with our publishers to help them understand where they need to improve the accessibility of their content files.
We believe this dual approach is the best way to ensure all users, regardless of ability, can access EBSCO eBooks and interact with them to accomplish their goals.
The ASPIRE team were interviewed by EBSCO's The Digital Squeeze podcast in 2020. We discuss the development of the ASPIRE project and the work EBSCO have devoted to improving the accessibility of their content + platforms.