Daily Archives: October 7, 2020

Beyond an Accessible LMS – An Accessible LMS Community

TL;DR: Chris Knapp’s Post about two weeks of his experiences in the Sakai community

For over 15 years, the Sakai Learning Management System has been committed to building a product that not only meets the legal requirements of accessibility – but has the higher goal of making the Sakai user experience “excellent” for visually impaired learners.   We feel that an LMS must take that extra step because access to a good education is not a luxury – it is a fundamental human right.

Sakai greatly benefited from having Jutta Treviranus on our board during our early days.   Jutta helped us understand that accessibility for an LMS was not just a “checkbox”.  She not only inspired us to make Sakai a great product for visually impaired learners (i.e. all of us), she shared her research and innovation (i.e. https://idrc.ocadu.ca/ )  with us to give us the tools to achieve those goals.

Sakai is beginning an effort to take the next steps in becoming an accessible community.  Our goal is to make special efforts to being visually impaired contributors in as regular members of the community.  Our goal is for VI members to participate in all aspects of Sakai from development, to quality assurance and community leadership.  Of course one of their contributions will help us maintain the high standard for accessibility in the Sakai product – but our goals are broader than that.

My company (Learning Experiences) has retained Chris Knapp of Knapp Strategic to be embedded in the community and help us improve the accessibility of all of our processes and tools.   He will be integrated as part of the Sakai QA team (Chris is not a coder) and help us adapt all aspects of our human processes and/or tool chains to make them more accessible.

Once Chris works through how to be a visually impaired Sakai contributor, we will begin to recruit and Learning Experiences will pay other visually impaired people to be Sakai contributors.  We are just getting started with this but we have high hopes for the effort.

Chris wrote a blog post that summarizes his first few weeks of his involvement as a VI contributor in Sakai.

I will just say that it has been only a few weeks but has been great fun for me.  So far one of my favorite eye-opening moments was when Chris attended our weekly Marketing meeting.  We got to talking about an upcoming social media launch and we were talking about how images of the Sakaiger might be best used in the campaign.

Sitting in the Zoom meeting, I realized that Chris had absolutely no idea what the Sakaiger looked like.  And he had no idea even what the “rings of water” Sakai logo looked like.   So I sent him a stuffed Sakaiger and several knit caps with the Sakai “Jewel” logo on them.

A stuffed Sakaiger is an accessible three-dimensional version of a mascot image!  I never would have thought of that – except that once Chris was in a meeting with us – it was immediately obvious. Pretty cool.