Okay, I had my little rant earlier, now it’s time to put my geek hat on…
According to a survey undertaken by the BBC World Service 78% of respondents believe that Web access is a fundamental right, with half saying it should never be regulated by a government. The most important reason for the Internet was the ability to find information, followed by communication and interaction with others, then entertainment.
The Australian Government has endorsed the W3C’s latest accessibility standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (or WCAG 2.0), with Australian Government websites to conform to the new guidelines by 2015. It may sound boring, but people with vision, hearing and cognitive impairments have just as much a right to access the same information as those who aren’t impaired. There was one meeting when the issue of placing PDFs on our public website without an equivalent (accessible) HTML document was discussed. When it was pointed out that the PDF wasn’t accessible for those with vision impairments, the response was “It is accessible- the person could enlarge it on the screen!” It took a while to explain screen reading software and PDFs don’t often play nicely with each other, and the fact we were legally mandated to provide this information in an accessible format.
The more I study and read about geeky stuff, the more I am aware of how little I know.This blog about how little you know your users strikes a huge chord. The more we look at our library users, the less I think we know about them- especially how they locate information and what they do with that information when they find it. The library is looking to develop a client feedback strategy and it would be a good chance to learn more about them, through more taregted surveys about their information-seeking behaviour. The main issue in the past has been that there has been a reluctance to bombard our users with surveys because they’re too busy, and an annual survey which is conducted organisation-wide doesn’t really tell us much.
We could learn more about our users from keyword research on our site. Hopefully this will be in conjunction with more feedback from our users!