A congratulatory welcome to IFLA’s first Network, the IFLA Accessibility Metadata Network, formed by volunteers from across IFLA: The Advisory Committee on Standards, the Cataloguing, Subject Analysis and Access, Bibliography, Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities and Audiovisual and Multimedia Sections.

IFLA’s core value of universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination has been a guiding principle for this network. Bibliographic metadata enables people to explore, find, identify and select resources that match their needs,  But if you are disabled, how easy is it to identify resources that match your needs when there is no information about accessibility features or hazards? Accessibility metadata is not always present in bibliographic descriptions; if present, it is not always displayed nor indexed for discovery; nor is it recorded consistently. There are many challenges and few guidelines for library communities.

The goal of the Accessibility Metadata Network is to improve the resource discovery experience for library users with disabilities, by collaborating across sectors, both within IFLA and outside IFLA, to identify and develop the guidance needed. The network structure encourages widespread collaboration and coordination. The network will pay careful attention to current standards and developments in the domain of accessibility metadata so that libraries can take advantage of work already accomplished. The aim will be to fit harmoniously within this domain whenever possible and to address gaps or weaknesses that are identified. An important part of the work is to aim  for compatibility of data, an appropriate response to user needs, and an efficient use and reuse of accessibility metadata created in related sectors, such as by publishers or agencies that produce remediated resources.

Guidance may take the form of a single IFLA standard, or may result in two or more documents, such as a statement/manifesto and a set of best practices.

Newly-elected Network Convenor, Chris Oliver had this to say about the Governing Board’s approval of the Network:

It has been a rewarding journey to come together as a group and propose this network. And it has been very affirming to receive the Governing Board’s approval for our work. Accessibility metadata may not be an issue that affects every library user, but it is an important part of our responsibility as a profession to promote equity and inclusion in all aspects of our work.