Accessibility and the ability for our software to meet specific WCAG levels of compliance have been a part of the conversation around Hyrax and Hyku for years. Many institutions coming to Samvera for its open source nature are part of a public sector that requires specific accessibility standards. At times this requirement is minimized to some degree, which allows the project to continue, unfortunately to the detriment of its users. Notch8 has observed that recently those requirements are increasingly stricter and less easily waived. And rightfully so.
This work can be difficult to move forward in light of the way software development is organized around an open source community, depending on contributed work from sponsoring projects or organized community sprints. Fortunately, some auditing and remediation work has been done in the past for Hyrax, which has in turn ushered improvements into Hyku. But in open source, progress comes incrementally. It’s nevertheless our responsibility as a community to keep these goals in sight, and ensure our software can be used by a broad and inclusive user base.
PALNI and PALCI have acknowledged this as a barrier to Hyku adoption as part of their recently-awarded IMLS grant. Though work under that grant will ultimately be prioritized based on user feedback, further remediation of accessibility issues is among their goals. Anticipating that, Notch8 is happy to share a completed accessibility audit of Hyku 3.0 that may assist that work. This audit was commissioned as a requirement from University of Tennessee Knoxville prior to commencing their Hyku project, currently underway. The Hyku instance used for the assessment was a temporary test tenant in the Hyku Commons application, as part of the Hyku for Consortia project. Stay tuned in the coming months for news about accessibility upgrades as part of Hyku for Consortia, University of Tennessee Knoxville, and other projects that have included accessibility enhancements in their roadmap.
Accessibility compliance is often assessed on a fairly interpretive scale, and one Notch8 is still learning how to best navigate. A VPAT is a common assessment tool, but there are others out there. Notch8 chose the WCAG-EM Report Tool, which assesses the same criteria in a logical, readable way. We welcome feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) and volunteer contributions from those who are able to improve this report. Hopefully in the meantime, it will have value in the community and be a useful resource for accessibility roadmaps in Hyku.
Notch8 would like to thank PALNI, PALCI, and University of Tennessee Knoxville for their roles in bringing this work forward, as well as our own Diem Tran, who researched and completed this audit. We also thank others in the Hyku community for keeping this conversation going, and Jon Dunn, Julie Hardesty, and others in the Hyrax community who shared useful information about previous accessibility efforts in Samvera.