Theory Article

Actually Accessible Data: An Update and a Call to Action

  • Randy D. Colón (University of Illinois, Chicago)
  • Abigail Goben orcid logo
  • Sebastian Karcher (Syracuse University)


As funder, journal, and disciplinary norms and mandates have foregrounded obligations of data sharing and opportunities for data reuse, the need to plan for and curate data sets that can reach researchers and end-users with disabilities has become even more urgent. We begin by exploring the disability studies literature, describing the need for advocacy and representation of disabled scholars as data creators, subjects, and users. We then survey the landscape of data repositories, curation guidelines, and research-data-related standards, finding little consideration of accessibility for people with disabilities. We suggest three sets of minimal good practices for moving toward truly accessible research data: 1) ensuring Web accessibility for data repositories; 2) ensuring accessibility of common text formats, including those used in documentation; and 3) enhancement of visual and audiovisual materials. We point to some signs of progress in regard to truly accessible data by highlighting exemplary practices by repositories, standards, and data professionals. Accessibility needs to become a mainstream component of curation practice included in every training, manual, and primer.

Keywords: digital accessibility, FAIR data, research data

How to Cite: Colón, R., Goben, A. & Karcher, S. (2023). Actually Accessible Data: An Update and a Call to Action. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 11(1), eP15449.

Rights: © 2023 The Author(s). License: CC BY 4.0

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Published on
10 Aug 2023
Peer Reviewed