Actually Accessible Data: A Call To Action
In 2015, Walker and Keenan highlighted the importance of providing “truly accessible research data”: research data that are not merely available, but accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. In the 6 years since, the conversation about accessible research data that Walker and Keenan hoped to start has, mostly, not occurred. As we face exponentially growing data curation and preservation demands, it is critical to identify opportunities which improve data to facilitate use by all interested parties, rather than further reinforcing ableist practices. This presentation is both a call for, and a description of, first steps towards, “Curating for Accessibility.” We survey current guidelines and standards and the need for advocacy and representation of disabled scholars as data creators, subjects, and users. We then suggest minimal practices for truly accessible research data: 1) Ensuring web-accessibility for data repositories, 2) ensuring accessibility of common text formats, and 3) enhancement of visual and audiovisual materials. We highlight a few exemplary practices by repositories, standards, and data professionals. Our call to action: Accessibility – in the sense of making data usable by all resusers – needs to become a mainstreamed component of curation practice, included in every training, manual, and primer.