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Accessibility Initiatives

This guide describes major accessibility initiatives at Scholars Portal including the Accessible Content E-Portal (ACE), the ACE digitization service, and the Accessibility Information Toolkit for Libraries.

Introduction

ACE Guidelines on Erasing Marginalia

These guidelines have been developed by ACE staff in conjunction with the ACE User Advisory Group and Internet Archive staff.  They are intended for all books being digitized for the ACE portal, including those being processed at member libraries.

Download the Readability Cheat Sheet: PDF or JPG

General Considerations

  1. These guidelines may also be used to determine whether a book marked up in ink is acceptable to be digitized, or whether another copy should be sought.
  2. All marking interfere more with legibility the darker they are and the more frequently they appear. Occasional, faint markings may be more easily ignored.
  3. When erasing, use a high quality eraser to keep the paper from ripping. Ensure that the crumb of the eraser doesn't remain on the page, as this interferes with the scanning process. 

Final Copy Ink Markup

  1. When only permanently marked copies are available, after ACE staff has applied due diligence to finding a clean copy and in consideration of the guidelines below, the copy may be digitized despite the presence of ink markup in the yellow and occasionally red categories.  A way to flag such titles in the portal will be developed, including a link to these guidelines.
  2. If an ACE user finds any section of a book difficult or impossible to read, whether this book has been flagged as being marked or not, they may submit a problem report and request a more legible copy.
  3. If a more legible copy is requested and a clean copy cannot be found, ACE staff will work with Internet Archive to determine the possibility of creating a better file. 

Removing Marginalia

Removing Marginalia

Markings and marginalia have been arranged into three different categories: red (markings which are vital to remove), yellow (markings which should be removed if possible), and green (markings which may be removed if staff judge them to be distracting). 

Red: Vital to Remove

Any mark that obstructs or obscured the text interferes greatly with the readability.  The most critical of these are tight or messy underline that strikes through or touches the bottom of the characters.  Other marks that interfere with multiple words or phrases, such as a large, messy circle, are also essential to remove. 

Example of messy underline interfering with readability

In this example, the underline strikes through some of the words and touches others.  This is completely illegible in OCR.

Example of messy underline interfering with readability.

In this example, the wavy underline touches nearly all the letters.  This is completely illegible in OCR.

Yellow: Remove if Possible

Any underline or similar that is close to the text, even if it does not touch the characters, has the ability to interfere with OCR, especially for users with older versions of adaptive software (e.g. Kurzweill 1000). 

Example of underline that comes close to touching the text.

In this example, the underline comes very close to the characters in some places. This may cause problems with OCR in older software.

Example of messy circle that comes close to touching the text.

In this example, the circle around the text cuts through the tails of the Ps and comes close to the other characters. This may cause problems with OCR in older software.

Smaller markings such as asterisks, checkmarks, brackets, etc. within the text can add a few extra characters, but do not present a very serious threat to readability.  If possible, such markings should be erased.  If they interfere with an important part of the text such as a chapter title or citation information, it is even more important to remove them.

Example of brackets written into the text.

In this example, the brackets may add an extra character or two in OCR.  This is not ideal, but will still be legible.

Example of circle obscuring author name.

In this example, the circle around the footnote number obscures the last letter in the author's name, which may make it difficult for the user to find this reference in the bibliography.  This should be erased.  The squiggle over "and" is less important.

Marks that come directly before or after a line of text can be construed by some OCR software as extra characters in the text.  If possible, it is preferable to erase marks such as slashes, asterisks, letters, or checkmarks that are directly adjacent to a character in the test. 

Example of comment written at the end of a line of text.

In this example, the word "comment" looks like an extension of the phrase "used in practice" and may result in  afew extra characters in the OCR text.  This is not ideal, but will still be legible.

Example of symbol at the end of a line of text.

In this example, OCR is likely to treat the dot next to "also for" as a character.  This may add an extra character or two to the OCR text, but it will still be legible.

Green: Judgement Call

Writing and symbols in the margins are, for the most part, easily ignored by most adaptive technologies.  However, staff may choose to erase margin notes in certain cases based on personal judgement, if they wind them visually overwhelming or distracting. 

Example of comment in the margin.

In this example, OCR software and screen readers can easily tell that the comment in the margin is not part of the text and will ignore it.

Example of symbols in the margin.

In this example, OCR software and screen readers should be able to determine that the symbols in the margin are not part of the text and will ignore them.

Generally, highlighted text does not pose a problem for readability.  The exception is particularly dark highlighters, or highlighting which is patchy and does not cover the whole character, which may pose problems with older software.

Example of patchy highlighting

In this example, the highlighter is patchy and does not always encase each entire character.  If it occurs too often it may cause problems for those using older software.

Example of dark and uneven highlighting.

In this example, the highlighter is very dark.  Some patches are darker than others and the highlighter doesn't continue all the way to the end of the first line.  If this occurs too often it may cause problems for those using older software.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is a judgement call what to erase and what not to erase.  Such judgements should be based on the knowledge of how markings affect the reading experience, as laid out above.