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Home  > e-Science  > News  > New b-on Portal: 100% Compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

New b-on Portal: 100% Compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

 - 22/07/2009

Logo of b-on: Online Knowledge Library A new portal for the b-on: (Biblioteca do Conhecimento Online) has been launched with better usability and for the first time, it completely complies with the accessibility guidelines for citizens with special needs, from W3C - World Wide Web Consortium (level AAA for the WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 for WAI – Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C).

The b-on portal thus joins the limited number of medium or large-sized Internet Websites which completely comply with the accessibility guidelines of the W3C, as has been the case with The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) website for about a year and a half.

The b-on portal provides access to around 17 thousand articles from the principal international academic publications of 16 of the world’s leading scientific publishers and is intensively used by the academic and scientific community.

In 2008 5.2 million documents were downloaded from this online academic library which is made freely available in all Portuguese public and associated private higher educational institutions. As such use of b-on in 2008 was 60% greater than in 2005, and two and a half times greater than in 2004.

The b-on: Online Knowledge Library has become an essential instrument used practically every day by the Portuguese scientific and academic community. Even though a simple Google search does not reveal anything, a  search on the computers linked into scientific institutional and higher educational institutional networks can provide access to content available on b-on which would be unavailable in any other form.

With b-on, the Portuguese academic and scientific community have one of the most wide-ranging and user-friendly online academic bibliographic services in the world, given that the system is available at a national level and can be freely used from any computer installed on scientific and higher educational institutional networks.

Initially envisaged in 1999 under the name “The National S&T Library Network”, as part of the Operational Science, Technology and Innovation Programme (POCTI), which was presented to the European Commission at the time, following a period of preparation led by the OCT - Science and Technology Observatory in 2000-2002, which involved a survey in 2000 of the national subscriptions to academic journals, making the Web of Knowledge available in 2001, and the start of negotiations in that year with publishers which continued into 2002, with b-on being launched in 2004 with 3 500 publications from 6 publishers through a UMIC initiative.

After initially being made available in April 2004, the b-on portal was improved in September 2005, and has recently been redesigned to be fully compliant with accessibility guidelines and to adopt an information structure which responds better to the needs of the user.

The general access area of the portal now has a section dedicated to each type of user, namely students, professors, researchers, health professionals and librarians, a rewritten help section enriched with a set of e-learning models and, finally, a section of statements from users and a suggestions box. In a restricted area the site makes data on the registered institution available to librarians and further information concerning communication and dissemination, training, various resources and also user data.

The b-on portal was developed by the b-on team at FCCN – the Foundation for National Scientific Computation and by a well-known Portuguese company operating in this area. The project has had the support of external entities who took part in its usability tests. The new portal was certified by The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) with regard to its accessibility and had the support of the UMIC Access Group in terms of improving its accessibility during its development. This portal, besides functioning with the traditional IPv4 protocol, is now compatible with the IPv6 protocol designed to overcome the limitations of Internet addressing imposed by IPv4 which will lead to addresses running out in the next few years.

Action by The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) led to a major alteration in the b-on financing model and availability in 2006. The previous model had been based on a division of costs within the "consortium" of public and private user institutions, mainly universities, in accordance with criteria relating to the size of these institutions, although a little more than have of the total costs for the 2004-2006 period had been guaranteed by the FEDER Community Support Framework III, through the Knowledge Society Operational Programme (POSC). This model had serious sustainability problems due to the access to budgetary facilities within a vast system of institutions, particularly when the POSC support came to an end in 2008. There were added costs due to the central administrative work involved and in the user institutions in terms of dealing with invoices and payments, which induced a fragmentary pattern in the collections on offer in institutions which sought to reduce their costs by restricting their publication subscriptions without a corresponding reduction in the global costs to the Country. The new funding model, which has been in force since 2007, involves central public funding of the costs allocated to public institutions of 5.5 million euros from the budget.

The financing model became at the same time one of absolute simplicity whilst eliminating the problems specified above. From one day to the next, the fragmentary trend had disappeared, public administrative costs for collecting revenue had been reduced, and the tendency towards conflict with the users "consortium" had disappeared. An additional benefit, achieved virtually without increasing the costs to the country, was ensuring universal access to the complete collection of the Online Knowledge Library to all higher educational public bodies, and all State Laboratories and research units positively rated by the international evaluation system of the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT), when previously some state-run polytechnic institutions, State Laboratories and research units with a positive FCT rating had not had access to this.

A further organisational aspect which was resolved by UMIC in 2007 was unifying the management of the Online Knowledge Library (b-on) with the Web of Knowledge, which until that date had been managed by OCES – the Observatory for Science, Technology and Higher Education (Observatório da Ciência Tecnologia e Ensino Superior), with both coming under the ambit of FCCN and the responsibility and financing of The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), with the resulting administrative and economic advantages.

The b-on (Biblioteca do Conhecimento Online) library is a project for which The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) is responsible, with technical management from FCCN – the Foundation for National Scientific Computation, bodies which come under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and whose Internet portal is available at

Last updated ( 19/08/2011 )