Are they finding what they need library databases and users with print learning disabilities
1 / 49

Are They Finding What They Need? : Library Databases and Users with Print/Learning Disabilities - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Are They Finding What They Need? : Library Databases and Users with Print/Learning Disabilities. Kelly Dermody, Ryerson University Library Norda Majekodunmi, York University Libraries. Outline. Introduction Literature Review Design/Methodology Results Implications Conclusion.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.

Download Presentation

Are They Finding What They Need? : Library Databases and Users with Print/Learning Disabilities

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Are They Finding What They Need? : Library Databases and Users with Print/Learning Disabilities

Kelly Dermody, Ryerson University Library

Norda Majekodunmi, York University Libraries


  • Introduction

  • Literature Review

  • Design/Methodology

  • Results

  • Implications

  • Conclusion

Canadians with a Disability

  • In 2006, 4.4 million Canadians (14.3%) aged 15 and over had some form of disability

Statistics Canada. 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS)

Ontarians with a Disability

  • In 2006, 1.85 million Ontarians had a disability

Statistics Canada. 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS)

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)

  • To make Ontario accessible by 2025

  • mandatory accessibility standards in 5 areas

AODA, 2005

  • Customer Service

    • Organizations must have policies, practices and procedures re: delivery of services to persons with disabilities

  • Employment

  • Information and Communication

  • Built Environment

  • Transportation

Students with a Disability

Source: Statistics Canada, Participation and Activity Limitation Survey, 2006.

Ontario Students with a Disability

  • 35,618 students with disabilities attended Ontario colleges and universities in 2007-2008

  • Ryerson University: approx. 1200 students

    • 110 registered with print disabilities (visual, mobility and learning disability) who use screen readers

  • York University: 1,987 students

    • Approx 250 registered with print disabilities/learning disabilities who use screen readers.

The Electronic Library

Library Resources and Access

  • Several studies show online library databases inaccessible or not user-friendly

  • Stewart, 2005; Byerley and Chambers, 2002; Riley, 2004 examined users of screen readers

  • 2007 study found few vendors conducted usability tests with actual persons with disabilities with adaptive technology

Byerley, S.L., Chambers, M.B. and Thohira, M. (2007). Accessibility of web-based library databases: the vendors’ perspectives in 2007. Library Hi Tech, 25 (4), 509-527.

University Students and Research Skills

  • Studies on the research skills of University students (Mittermeyer, 2003; Valentine, 2001; Nowicki, 2003) show that students have poor research skills

  • Few studies look at the research skills of students with a disability who use screen readers

Are they finding what they need?

The Study

  • Trace the research process of students who are auditory readers (who use screen readers to access information online).


  • Are students who use screen readers missing enhanced features in databases?

  • Can students navigate these electronic resources independently and use the features fully to conduct research?

  • What kinds of barriers, if any, are encountered during the research process?

  • Which specific steps or tasks during the research process, if any, are users having difficulties?

Methodology: Participants

  • 5 York and 5 Ryerson University students

  • Screen readers:

    • JAWS: visual impairments

    • Zoomtext: visual impairments/learning disabilities

    • Kurzweil 3000: learning disabilities

  • Completed demographics survey

Methodology: Tools

  • Task:

    • Search each database for academic articles on “women with disabilities in Canada”

    • Identify 2 full-text academic articles

    • Access the articles and read the first paragraph of each article

  • Screen capture software and observations

Databases: Expanded Academic ASAP

Databases: CBCA Complete

Databases: Sociological Abstracts


  • Surveys completed after searching each database

  • Final survey


  • Studies consulted indicate students are having difficulty using on-line databases ( Finder et al, 2006; Mittermeyer, 2005 and Valentine, 2001


  • Lack of control group (students with out print disabilities)


Our Users

  • Majority Undergraduates

Skill Level and Library Use

Sociological Abstracts

Search Execution

Completing the Task

Student Perspective

Video Results

Video Results by Database

Students’ Ratings of Databases

Expanded Academic ASAP

CBCA Complete

Sociological Abstracts


  • 80% were unaware of accessible features on databases search as text-only.


  • Unreadable PDF

  • Can’t find the Link to Full Text

Students Rating of Accessibility





Sensory impairments can lead people to miss information from their environment or to interpret the information in a different way (Whitney, 2006).

Implications for students

Student Frustration

“It is very difficult and time consuming. Home access to Google Scholar would be ideal”

“I don’t really know what I’m doing. I spend a lot of time and sometimes end up with nothing.”

“I find it difficult and time consuming. It seems to take longer for me than for other students.” may be technically possible for people who use screen readers to perform a given task, but it does not mean they can execute the task gracefully (Byerley, Chambers, Thohira, 2007).

Implications for VendorsdesignTestingMarketing

Link Clutter

“The interface on many databases need to be cleaned up. For every extra search field or button that can be clicked, the likelihood of people becoming confused increases. The more busy a database interface may be, the risk increases of accessibility software not being able to keep pace.”

“The names of links and their functions were not clear.”

“Overall this process would be made easier if the websites of databases were less cluttered with links

so that navigation around their various

screens took less time.”

Accessing the Full TextThe role of the Vendor and the Library

Labelling and placement of Full Text Link within Databases and the naming of SFX links

“It is very difficult to access full text articles. Even if it says they are available they are not always accessible.”

“I do not know how to pull up the actual document, I only pull up the document summary page.”

Usability Testing

  • .....only 5 of the 12 vendors

    conducted usability testing with people who have visual disabilities (Byerley, Chambers and Thohira ,2007) .

  • Our study shows usability of the 3 databases is challenging for students who have visual and learning disabilities.


  • Vendors are responding to accessibility (EbscoHost and ProQuest Search Features, ).

  • But do not address accessibility in marketing efforts. (Byerley, Chambers, Thohira, 2007).

  • 80% of our students were unaware of any accessible features on the three databases such as text-only.

CBCA Complete Text-Only Feature

CBCA Complete Text Only Search

CBCA Complete Search Example

...the way students view their information universe affects their ability to develop critical thinking (Weiler, 2005).

Implications for Libraries

  • ...Students with disabilities need a one-to-one consultation with a librarian (Study participant)

The Library’s role in a Student’s Research Process

  • Information Literacy Skills

  • Library instruction for students with print/learning disabilities

  • Limiters

  • Full Text labels (SFX) – Are they clear enough ?

The Library’s Many Roles

  • As buyers of databases

  • Marketers of Accessible features

  • Creators of detailed instruction materials

  • Instructors of accessible literacy skills

  • Promoters of Universal Instructional Design

  • “It has been difficult for me to find the right articles for my papers without library support but it is getting easier for me to do some of the research on my own as I have become more adept at using the resources.” (study participant)


Students with print/learning disabilities who rely on screen readers to navigate library databases encounter design barriers that prevent them from fully executing the research process.

Thank YouQuestions ?

Web Resources

  • University of Guelph UID homepage

  • Ebsco Accessibility Interest Group

  • Proquest Accessibility Statement

  • Gale Accessibility Statement


Bruce. C.S. (1998). The Phenomenon of Information Literacy. Higher

Education Research & Development, 17 (1), 25-43.

Byerley, S.L. and Chambers, M.B. (2002). Accessibility and usability of web-based library databases for non-visual users. Library Hi Tech, 20 (2), 169-178.

Byerley, S.L., Chambers, M.B. and Thohira, M. (2007). Accessibility of web-based library databases: the vendors’ perspectives in 2007. Library Hi Tech, 25 (4), 509-527.

Haya, G., Nygren E., and Widmark, W. (2007). Metalib and Google Scholar: a user study. Online Information Review, 31 (3), 365-375.

Mittermeyer D, Quirion D. (2003). Information literacy: study of incoming first-year undergraduates in Quebec. Conference of Rectors and Principals of Québec Universities. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from

Nowicki, S. (2003). Student vs. search engine: undergraduates rank results for relevance. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 3 (1), 503-515.

Riley, C. (2004). Electronic content: is it accessible to clients with ‘differabilities’? Serials Librarian, 46 (3/4), 233-40.

Stewart, R., Narendra, V. and Schmetzke, A. (2005). Accessibility and usability of online library databases. Library Hi Tech, 23 (2), 265-286.

Valentine, B. (2001). The legitimate effort in research papers: student commitment versus faculty expectations. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 27 (2), 107-115.

Vassiliadis, K. and Stimatz, L.R. (2002). The instruction librarian’s role in creating a usable web site. Reference Services Review, 30 (4), 338-42.

Weiler, A. (2005). Information-seeking behaviour in generation y students: motivation, critical thinking and learning theory. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31 (1), 46-53.

Whitney, G. (2006). Enabling people with sensory impairments to participate effectively in research. Universal Access in the Information Society, 5, 287-291.

Zoellner, K., Samson, S., & Hines, S. (2008). Continuing assessment of library instruction to undergraduates: A general education course survey. Colleges & Research Libraries, 69, 370-383.

  • Login