Leading from the Center: Digital Accessibility Efforts through the Library

Handouts Media

Presented at 11:30am in Penrose 2 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.



  • Rebecca Albrecht Oling, Director of Digital Accessibility, Purchase College Library SUNY

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


Discussion of newly created Director of Digital Accessibility role in mid-size College Library. We will detail collection engagement, curricular inclusion of accessibility principles as well as a unique five-prong outreach approach to faculty in courses we have deemed high risk. Additionally, we’ll cover how close vendor, system, and consortial relationships stabilize resources, reduce barriers, and ensure progress towards accessibility goals.


In the fall of 2018, Purchase College Library (SUNY) created the Director of Digital Accessibility role from an existing instructional librarian position. This move was controversial for a variety of reasons: such a role did not exist at many libraries as most accessibility roles were centered in campus computing departments, support was and remains a challenge, and staffing is perpetually tight. Additionally, focus in this area would naturally split attention away from traditional reference and instruction.

Libraries cater to specific faculty needs, balancing a fine line when it comes to content advisory for courses. Often, faculty (especially adjuncts) use materials from previous courses taught, perhaps at other institutions. While not always formally trained as instructional designers, librarians see many of the issues in course content as they field questions at the reference desk encountering issues with both design and files in the LMS. Perhaps more than any other campus stakeholder, librarians see the impact of the barriers created. Partnering closely with the Office of Disability Resources to proactively engage faculty in what we deemed to be “high risk” courses, we leverage the learning management system and Blackboard’s A11y to ensure steady progress towards reducing barriers and increasing engagement with the library’s resources.

This approach allows Purchase College to benefit from the Library’s central role with faculty and students. As campus faculty, the Director of Digital Accessibility is active in campus committees, OER and DEI efforts and has become a point person within the Library for accessibility questions, best practices, guidance and training.

We will detail engagement with our collection, and curricular inclusion of accessibility principles and will cover how long-term relationships with vendors and within SUNY allow us to better advocate to those in charge of procurement and renewals as well as engage distributors and stakeholders.


  1. The Library is uniquely positioned with faculty, students, vendors, consortia and others to lead.
  2. Librarians see more barriers in design and content than most campus stakeholders.
  3. Centering digital accessibility efforts in the library can improve the landscape of accessibility.

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized, Universal Design for Learning

Speaker Bio(s)

Rebecca Albrecht Oling

Rebecca Albrecht Oling (MLS, CPACC) is the Director of Digital Accessibility at Purchase College, SUNY. A native New Yorker with a background in education, librarianship, and accessibility, she is also a rare disease patient, advocate and speaker.