The ProQuest Story
21 June, 2021
Chief Technology Officer | ProQuest
EdTech leader ProQuest is committed to providing all our users with a fully accessible experience for research, teaching and learning – and that’s why we were thrilled to work with ASPIRE to bring both the Ebook Central platform and the ProQuest platform to 100% ASPIREGold scores.
“ProQuest is proud to be recognized for our work to make our platforms accessible. Changing our statements to speak directly to users who may need assistive technologies to use our site has also changed the way we speak both internally and externally about our product accessibility,” said Serena Rosenhan, Vice President of User Experience at ProQuest.
A Spotlight on Accessibility Statements
“Recently, updated digital accessibility laws in the UK have put a spotlight on accessibility documentation becoming a lot more user-friendly,” Rosenhan added. “We’ve always put an emphasis on providing our customers with thorough accessibility documentation, but the focus was on checklists and standards, with technical language that might be challenging for the average user to interpret.”
With the support of textBOX and their ASPIRE services, our accessibility statements clearly communicate the accessibility features available – and how to use assistive technology tools to interact with our products.
“ASPIRE began to draw attention to the fact that many accessibility statements themselves aren’t very accessible,” added Stephen Kemsley, UX Manager at ProQuest. “Our accessibility statements weren’t very helpful to a non-technical audience. Working with ASPIRE helped us determine how to better explain accessibility in our products and give practical guidance to our users.”
Accessibility for Multi-Format Content
With ASPIRE’S guidance, ProQuest completely rewrote the accessibility statements for its ProQuest and Ebook Central platforms. This was especially challenging given the range of varied content ProQuest offers – ebooks, streaming videos, primary sources, journals, dissertations and more, all with different features and considerations for accessibility. Now, the statements are friendly documents that help students, faculty and researchers better understand how to use our products with assistive technology.
Rosenhan stressed that building accessible products is much more than meeting legal requirements – it’s about meeting user needs. In fact, universal design – designing that’s usable by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status – is a key product design principle at ProQuest. “We follow these principles to make our resources available to everyone, regardless of capability,” she said.
That includes users with disabilities, of course, but it also includes those who need accessible products for other reasons – for example, a user who is learning a new language might benefit from video captions, and a text-to-speech feature could help someone listen to a textbook on the road. Ultimately, said Rosenhan, “we’re committed to building tools that help any users do what they need to do.”
ProQuest’s digital content is vital to our customers and designed for access with all students in mind.
Technology has Shifted Higher Education
“Technology has irreversibly shifted the way higher education institutions operate around the world. ProQuest’s digital content is vital to our customers and designed for access with all students in mind,” said Brandy McNamara, Director of Product Management for Ebook Central and a former secondary education teacher. "With the support of textBOX and their ASPIRE services, our accessibility statements clearly communicate the accessibility features available, and how to use assistive technology tools to interact with our products.”