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Accessible and inclusive publishing

Online publishing grants publishers an unprecedented opportunity to reach readers around the globe. Accessible and inclusive publishing principles further ensures that online content is free of barriers for the broadest audience possible, regardless of their age, ability or disability.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide an international set of guidelines that are used as a basis for this guide. Additional national and international laws and standards exist. Depending on your jurisdiction, accessibility may be a legal obligation for your journal or institution.

Who benefits from accessible content? #

Your audience may include a wide diversity of people and abilities. Some of these abilities can impact how people access and read your journal online. Consider limitations such as visual, auditory, speech, physical, cognitive, neurological, or their combination and how they may affect people perceiving your content.

Barrier-free content is crucial for people with disabilities, but its benefits extend to the larger audience. For example, providing alternative text for images benefits anyone who does not have access to graphics. Adding captions to a video makes it watchable by those in sound sensitive environments, such as a library or a noisy space.

These principles lie at the core of Universal Design. Universal Design benefits all ages and abilities and recognizes the diversity and different requirements of users.

In this guide we cover the general principles of creating universally accessible content. We also highlight techniques to address specific limitations or the use of assistive technologies, such as screen readers for people with visual impairment or sign language for those with auditory limitations.

Website accessibility vs content accessibility #

When it comes to online journals, two aspects of accessibility need to be addressed:

  1. Website or platform accessibility, i.e. accessibility of OJS itself. This ensures that readers, authors and editors can navigate OJS regardless of any impairments or assistive technologies they use. PKP is working on bringing OJS structure and themes up to the current web accessibility standards - for the status of that work or to contribute see this update on the PKP website. Additionally, if you modify your journal’s theme yourself, make sure to follow the guidelines outlined in the Inclusive and Accessible Theming chapter of the Designing Your Journal Guide.

  2. Content accessibility, covered in this guide. Specifically, it applies to:

  • Website content, such as information you add when filling out OJS form fields, creating static pages, announcements, etc. It is usually created by the Journal Manager or the person responsible for website content.
  • Published content, including journal articles and other materials that are uploaded as galleys. Some of the principles below will need to be applied by copyeditors and production editors, others will need to be communicated by editors to the authors.

In addition to following the standards and best practices outlined below, we recommend that you add a notice on your journal website directing readers to contact you about accessibility concerns or issues that need to be addressed.