HathiTrust and a Mission for Accessibility

When it comes to digital content, access and preservation are two sides of the same coin. Without ongoing efforts to ensure preservation, access services falter and become uncertain; without clear evidence of access and supporting services, the mandate to preserve materials loses its force. At the HathiTrust Digital Library this understanding of digital preservation has influenced development of the repository and services as well as HathiTrust’s mission “to contribute to research, scholarship, and the common good by collaboratively collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.” Preservation and collection of digital materials is tied to access to and use of the content. One key facet of the access services that HathiTrust provides is to users who have disabilities (such as blindness, dyslexia, physical or cognitive impairments, etc.) that prevent them from being able to easily read printed material (disabilities commonly referred to as “print disabilities”). Outlined below are the strategies that HathiTrust has implemented to ensure that users with print disabilities can use the website and access digital materials in the library corpus, activities driven by the mission of HathiTrust as well as its short, albeit eventful, history.