Why is accessibility important for your research paper? - Author Services

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Why is accessibility important for your research paper?

The way in which research papers are read, used, and published is changing and developing faster than ever. With those changes comes more opportunities to make published research accessible to everyone, and at Taylor & Francis we are committed to helping authors do just that.

What is accessibility, and digital accessibility?

Accessibility is widely understood as the processes and practices involved to make information, environments, products, and services available to everyone.

Digital accessibility refers to the process of making sure all digital products, such as websites, eBooks, videos, and audio materials are accessible to all users. To maintain digital accessibility, design and technology is used to remove any potential barriers from the user when they access the digital product.

Various accessibility icons in white, on a black background, with the T&F logo in the corner. Icons include: visual, hearing, information, audio, physical disability, speech, text and mobile.

People with digital access requirements

It is important to consider the full range of disabilities that can affect how people access digital content.

  • Auditory
    Deafness falls under four categories: conductive, sensorineural, auditory processing or mixed. People who are deaf may experience digital material such as videos or podcasts differently.

  • Cognitive
    Examples of cognitive or learning disabilities include, but are not limited to, memory loss, difficulties with communication, slow processing and forgetfulness. People with cognitive disabilities may find digesting a complicated table or diagram difficult.

  • Physical
    People who have divergent physical/mobility requirements may experience barriers to accessing digital content. For example, they may not be able to use a keyboard or mouse in the mainstream way.

  • Speech
    People with a speech or communication disability may experience difficulties creating or forming their speech. Voice recognition technologies, for example, may not be accessible to a person with a speech disability.

  • Visual
    People who are blind or have a decreased ability to see may experience difficulties processing variations of color or handling brightness. To access digital content they may use magnification and screen reader (text-to-speech) technology.

Vector illustration of a large open laptop, with four puzzle pieces that are blue and pink on the screen, and three characters stood around the laptop pointing at the puzzle pieces.

Assistive technology

Many people with disabilities use assistive technology to allow them to access digital content. Assistive technology includes assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices – some examples are:

  • Screen readers

  • Voice recognition software

  • Braille terminals

  • Screen magnifiers

  • Selection switches

  • Assistive listening devices

Why is accessibility important for your research paper?

  • Inclusivity
    Making your research accessible promotes inclusivity. You’re helping to provide access to digital research, and thereby better access to education. By being inclusive with your research you are promoting equal access to life opportunities that stem from learning and gained knowledge.

  • Future-proofing
    If you prioritize making your research paper and articles accessible today, you will be future-proofing your content. It’s possible that meeting accessibility requirements will be a condition of submitting your manuscript in the future, so why not get ahead now?

  • Awareness
    Making your research accessible will help raise awareness among our communities regarding accessibility. You’ll be helping to spread the word, create discussions and highlight the importance of accessibility within the research community. Start by sharing this page with your colleagues, peers and other authors.

  • Accessibility policies
    You’ll be following accessibility policies.

  • Discoverability
    By including alternative text, you are supporting search engine optimization for your academic article.

  • Audience
    If you don’t prioritize accessibility when writing your paper, you’re decreasing the amount of people who can read your research. Making your research paper accessible expands your audience reach. By making sure all users can read your article, you’re increasing your readership, and in turn, increasing your chances of greater engagement and research impact.

  • Real world impact
    Alongside making your research accessible, you’ll be supporting the movement of accessibility and making a real difference to the world. Join the community and help us to make changes which impact real people in the real world.

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Research accessibility on Taylor & Francis Online

The video below explains how we are making the research we publish accessible to as many people as possible.

“As a blind Mathematics graduate, I could not have engaged in my study, had descriptions of pictures not been made available to me. Pictures are just as crucial as the written word and this is no less for someone who is unable to see images through their eyes.”

Stacy Scott

Making your research accessible

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Now that you’ve read why accessibility is important, you might be wondering how you can help support accessibility and make your own research accessible. We’ve put together some useful steps you can take when writing your research paper to help make your article accessible.

Taylor & Francis and our commitment to accessibility

Taylor & Francis is committed to making sure all our products, platforms and websites are accessible to as wide an audience as possible. We are continually improving the quality and accessibility of our content, to address the needs of all customers, regardless of ability or situation.

To guide us in our efforts, we use the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the US Government Section 508 Standards, and W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0/2.1. We are working toward the A and AA compliance levels of the WCAG 2.1.*

*Last updated 4th April 2022.

Here are some of the actions we’re taking to support accessibility

Journals

  • Journal articles are available as HTML, PDF and ePub3 format and include mark-up and structural elements to support the use of assistive technology.

  • Several of our key journals have started alternative text trials.

  • Taylor & Francis Online introduced a new text to speech feature called ReadSpeaker in 2019.

Web

  • We have provided consistent global navigation links and each page has a breadcrumb trail of navigation leading back to the homepage. All pages on our websites contain a search box.

  • All our websites have been built to modern web standards using valid XHTML and CSS. Headings are used effectively to allow users of assistive technology to navigate our pages.

Books

  • Alternative text was introduced into our eBook workflows in 2020.

  • We publish eBooks in both PDF and ePub3 format.

  • We launched a new author-facing website with contains our alt text guide for books.

  • Our ePubs specifically contain accessibility features for structured navigation and reading order.

  • Our eBook content is designed with a logical reading order and includes mark-up and heading structure to ensure easy navigation and compatibility with assistive technology.

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Learn more about the actions we’re taking at Taylor & Francis to make sure our products, platforms, and websites are accessible to as wide an audience as possible.