Document Type


Publication Date


Presented at:

Annual Meeting of the Music Library Association, St. Louis, MO


The number of students at Western Michigan University (WMU) who require accommodation for disabilities has been increasing in recent years, and is expected to continue to increase in the future. While the University Libraries tries to be responsive to all types of accommodations, students with visual impairments present a particular challenge for libraries to ensure their electronic resources are accessible. Most visually impaired students utilize “screen readers,” software programs that use a speech synthesizer to “read” the text that is displayed on the screen, to navigate web based resources. In an effort to try to better understand how specific screen readers work with our library electronic resources we employed a visually impaired student who is a sophisticated user of screen readers to test our electronic resources.Using a combination of browsers and operating systems, we used Job Access With Speech (JAWS), the most widely used screen reader, and NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), an open source screen reader, to test our website, our discovery layer and selected music databases. Databases tested include Music Periodicals Database (ProQuest), RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (EBSCO), and Grove Music Online. As WMU Libraries uses the ExLibris Primo discovery product, our instance of Primo was also tested for accessibility. The presenters will share the findings of the screen reader testing, including a pre-recorded demonstration of a visually impaired student conducting searches with screen readers, and describe our experiences in investigating accessibility of our electronic resources for visually impaired students. Presenters will also make recommendations for improving electronic resources and library services, in general, to better meet the needs of visually impaired patrons.