Practice Article

The Limits of Inclusion in Open Access: Accessible Access, Universal Design, and Open Educational Resources

Authors: ,


Introduction: The impacts of open educational resources (OER) are both well-documented and far-reaching. Without mitigating the positive outcomes of OER—including reduced textbook costs, readily available knowledge platforms, and open research—we problematize the commonly held assumption that open resources are necessarily more accessible and inherently good. 

Description of Program: Drawing on writing from antiracist, feminist disability researchers and advocates, we critically examine the UCLA Library online open educational initiative known as Writing Instruction + Research Education (WI+RE). In doing so, we (1) demonstrate how open access (OA) is often framed as an end, when in fact it is just the beginning; (2) encourage readers to resist evangelizing the OA movement such that it is beyond critique; and (3) advocate for the centering of disability justice within and beyond our OA efforts. 

Next Steps: We discuss both general and specific approaches for centering accessibility in creative processes, advocate for expanded definitions of OERs (beyond simply being “free”), and caution against evangelizing OERs without acknowledging the structural factors that contribute to inaccessibility. We outline four strategies and recommendations for other practitioners, educators, and designers seeking to build accessibility and dis-ability justice into OER design and OA initiatives more broadly. We approach OER both practically and theoretically to present an argument and path forward for designing more accessible resources and expanding OA through accessible access and universal design.

Keywords: open access, open education resources, open pedagogy, accessibility, accessible pedagogy, universal design for learning, digital inclusion, digital accessibility, instruction in libraries

How to Cite: Johnson, M. W. & Abumeeiz, S. (2023) “The Limits of Inclusion in Open Access: Accessible Access, Universal Design, and Open Educational Resources”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. 11(1). doi: