HathiTrust

Summary

***Below is a summary of UARC's accessibility evaluation. For the full report, click the pdf link in the menu on the right.*** 

MSU Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting (MSU UARC) conducted a high-level accessibility evaluation of the HathiTrust platform to evaluate its conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA Criteria. This evaluation did not include all functionality or content of the site or all WCAG 2.1 AA Success Criteria.

During this evaluation, a number of issues were found that will make some site content impossible to use for some individuals with disabilities and will make the site difficult to use for many others.

Critically, some content cannot be used when assistive technologies are enabled. Users that rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers, including individuals with visual and reading impairments, must be able to reach and use all content when those technologies are enabled.

Keyboard users, including screen reader users and users with dexterity impairments, will find it impossible to access or use some site content. Some content cannot be reached or operated via keyboard when a screen reader is active, making it impossible to access for users that employ those technologies. Focus order is incorrect in some places, increasing the difficulty of using the site with a keyboard, and many interactive elements lack a sufficiently visible focus indicator, making it difficult for many keyboard-only users to effectively use them, as they cannot determine when they have reached the correct element. Modifying some inputs also causes page content to unexpectedly change.

Individuals with visual impairments, including those that rely on screen readers, will also have problems using the site. Some content is not read out correctly and structural information (e.g., headings) is not appropriately conveyed to users, making it difficult or impossible to understand content and organization in places. Many form inputs are not appropriately labeled, making those inputs difficult or impossible to use for those that rely on screen readers. Custom elements do not correctly announce themselves to screen readers, making them difficult to understand and use. Many images have inappropriate or missing alternative text, significantly impacting users with visual impairments (most notably, OCRed text from scanned book pages is inaccurate).

Other issues were found that will make it difficult for users with a variety of disabilities to effectively use the system, including insufficient color contrast for text and meaningful visual elements, use of color alone to convey information, inability to appropriately dismiss hover content, content being removed when the viewport or text size is changed, insufficient link context, and problems bypassing repeated navigation.

To improve access for users with disabilities, MSU UARC recommends a full WCAG 2.1 AA evaluation and that the problems discovered be remediated.