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Abstract

For any body of knowledge – an ark of power or a corpus of scholarship – to be studied and used by people, it needs to be accessible to those seeking information. Universities, through their libraries, now aim to make more of the scholarship produced available for free to all through institutional repositories. However, the goal of being truly open for an institutional repository is more than the traditional definition of open access. It also means openness in a more general sense. Creating a scholarship-based online space also needs to take into consideration potential barriers for people with disabilities. This article addresses the interaction between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and university academic library based institutional repositories. This article concludes that institutional repositories have an obligation to comply with the ADA to make scholarly works available to potential users with disabilities. For managers of institutional repositories, following the law is an opportunity to make scholarship even more widely available. University open access institutional repositories need to be accessible to existing and potential disabled users. However, there are no specific rules that university institutional repositories must follow to be compliant with the ADA’s “public accommodation” standard. Accessibility is a changeable, moveable wall, consistently and constantly needing to be additionally inclusive of more – more technology and more users, regardless of disability or limitations. Institutional repositories should not become the crated Ark of the Covenant with their secrets locked inside; instead, they should be as open as possible to all, sharing the scholarship inside.

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