A framework for improving the accessibility of research papers on arXiv.org
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The research content hosted by arXiv is not fully accessible to everyone due to disabilities and other barriers. This matters because a significant proportion of people have reading and visual disabilities, it is important to our community that arXiv is as open as possible, and if science is to advance, we need wide and diverse participation. In addition, we have mandates to become accessible, and accessible content benefits everyone. In this paper, we will describe the accessibility problems with research, review current mitigations (and explain why they aren't sufficient), and share the results of our user research with scientists and accessibility experts. Finally, we will present arXiv's proposed next step towards more open science: offering HTML alongside existing PDF and TeX formats. An accessible HTML version of this paper is also available at https://info.arxiv.org/about/accessibility_research_report.html
Thank you for sharing your work. I am working on building similar accessibility solutions - including but not limited to this platform - and have a few questions.
- Your paper provides insightful perspectives on the accessibility barriers related to the PDF format, which is surprising given its widespread use in the STEM community. Could you please elaborate on the specific user categories who face challenges with this format?
- With HTML potentially replacing PDF as the main format for arXiv preprints, accessibility would certainly improve. However, could the traditional browsing experience, often marked by distractions and an unfocused attention span, possibly hinder in-depth research engagement in this format?
- An additional concern that wasn't addressed directly in your paper is the overwhelming volume of scientific data available today. Given the rapidly increasing number of submissions to arXiv
(which will undoubtedly become worse due to LLMs), how do you foresee your proposed accessibility solutions interacting with this issue of data overflow?