Working together to advance accessibility

Over the past year, MER and Taylor & Francis, the publisher of the Journal of Museum Education (JME), as well as a number of other journals from the heritage sector, have worked to make our organizations, products, and services more accessible for people with disabilities. Our shared product, the JME has served as a catalyst for us to collaborate on these efforts.

JME is one of the earliest adopters of alt-text at Taylor & Francis and will soon feature the new EPUB eReader functionality – making JME a pioneer in accessibility within Taylor & Francis journals. These functionalities facilitate reading JME on different devices, using a personal screen reader, easy navigation through articles online and legibility of image content. MER have also contributed to Taylor & Francis’s author and editor guidelines on alt-text. Collaborating with MER to utilize their expert knowledge on accessibility issues has helped to realize our joint goal of creating a more accessible JME.

Additionally, each year MER and Taylor & Francis Group work together to publish a Virtual Special Issue of the JME. The VSI is an online publication that provides a free-access, thematic look across the archive of past print issues of the JME. This year we are proud to jointly present our first 2-part VSI on the theme of Museum Accessibility as the United States commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, available here: The Arc of Accessibility Work in Museum Education.

In addition to our partnership for JME, each organization has embarked on further accessibility efforts unique to their missions and services.

Museum Education Roundtable

MER is committed to the core values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. We believe that as an organization, we have a professional responsibility to address the intersecting histories of oppression and resistance that shape hierarchies of privilege and power related to race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, ability and national origin and their role in museum education. As an organization with education at its core, we have committed to increasing the accessibility of the various platforms we use. In addition to our work with Taylor & Francis to increase the accessibility of the JME, we have:

  • added image descriptions to our social media posts;
  • used our platforms to raise awareness about inequities, and to shine a light on museums and museum workers working for justice;
  • committed budget to providing ASL interpretation at our annual forum (a professional learning workshop for museum educators).

We also know that the outward accessibility of our products and services are only half the story. Diverse representation on our Board of Directors matters. We’ve taken the following steps to increase the diversity and inclusion of our Board:

  • we have moved from an audio only conference line to audio and video Zoom platform for our meetings. While this may seem like a small step, we recognize that a video-based platform allows for more accommodation of different learning and processing needs;
  • when selecting new board members, consideration is given to applicants’ approaches to accessibility as well as equity and inclusion more broadly;
  • we actively audit the power and privilege that is present on our board and we prioritize the recruitment of a more diverse candidates, including individuals with disabilities.

Taylor & Francis Group

Our aim at Taylor & Francis is to make research accessible to as many people as possible, including the 15% of the world’s population with a recognized disability.

Taylor & Francis has recently taken major steps towards achieving level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 and Section 508 Standards of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act for our online journals platform, Taylor & Francis Online, which hosts MER’s Journal of Museum Education. These developments have been implemented in line with the Four Principles of Accessibility put forward by WCAG 2.1: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust.

Recent developments include:

  • improvements to Taylor & Francis Online to ensure that it works seamlessly on the most commonly used screen readers;
  • adding a customizable text-to-speech Readspeaker function on all journals, which includes adjustable font sizes and reading speed. It also allows the translation of the full article into other languages, making published research available to readers across the globe;
  • options for screen resizing for use on mobile devices;
  • updates to page layouts to ensure that they are navigable via the keyboard, without the need to use a mouse, and pages have a “go to top” link to make it easier to navigate through the site;
  • consistent navigation linked across pages to make it easy to understand the layout of the entire website;
  • live online content delivered in EPUB format through our eReader;
  • options for authors to include alt-text in their articles. Alt-text is also consistently used on all non-text elements of the Taylor & Francis website.

Please see Taylor & Francis’s Accessibility Statement for a full list of features and mission statement.

Meaningful and sustainable change towards a more inclusive museum field cannot happen without finding allies that will help expand your sphere of influence. The Museum Education Roundtable is thankful to work with a publisher and stakeholder in the heritage sector that recognizes the work that must still be done. Together, we will continue to break down barriers.