November 19, 2020Talea Anderson
The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program.
Talea: Anita, you and I started having regular conversations as part of the mentorship that LPC organized for fellows. You’ve been
working for some time now on publishing open textbooks at Virginia Tech but we talked early on about the evolution you all have had when it comes to the accessibility of your OER. I thought it would be interesting to talk through some of the changes you have made, especially when it comes to making STEM textbooks accessible to students.
I’ll preface this by saying that accessibility has proven to be an especially sticky issue for STEM and OER. Complex STEM notation doesn’t translate well to screen readers unless it’s appropriately coded. When publishing workflows involve conversions between file types, all of this becomes still more complex—and PDFs, which are common in the OER publishing ecosystem, are notorious for dealing poorly with STEM notation. The Australian Disability Clearinghouse and Rebus Community discuss some of these issues for anyone who would like to read more.