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Date & Time

  • October 9th 15:00 UTC/GMT - 11:00 EDT

Zoom meeting:

We will be using the DSpace Zoom Meeting Room for our meeting.

Meeting location:  

Enter Meeting ID: 502 527 3040 , followed by #

Zoom information: DSpace Meeting Room

Meeting will be facilitated by Terry Brady


Accessibility in DSpace

Other Updates

  • Update on the new DSpace Documentation and Training Working Group

Preparing for the call

If you can join the call, or are willing to comment on the topics submitted via the meeting page, please add your name, institution, and repository URL to the Call Attendees section below.  

Meeting notes

Steve Fernie at Georgetown has worked on accessibility for their websites.  He shared some challenges:  

  • No alt-text on thumbnails. 
  • Lack of titles on iframes for embedded video.
  • Site-improve tool:  Automated testing for accessibility.  Repository is so large that the tool is having problems checking it all.  Working on ways to do this in smaller batches.
  • WCAG

Georgetown at least initially will use the item's title as Alt-text for the thumbnail.  Working on better ways to include context information instead of just title.  Customized theme uses dc.description.alt information instead of title when it's present in the record.  Information in this field can be added when the item is submitted.

VTech:  Hope that DSpace 7 will include this functionality (Marianne agreed).  DSpace 7 working group is hoping for guidance on accessibility needs of repositories. 

University of Arizona discussing how to reduce "noise" in the user experience.  Considering whether some accessibility choices make it harder for users to access the items.  Will be consulting with their accessibility resource center on campus.   Thinks that DCAT should look at tools that make this easier.  Also, many users come directly to the repository from Google Scholar, so how does that factor in to this?

Georgetown:  Some of this depends on the screen reader that people are using and what their goals are in accessing the content.   Thumbnails can encourage someone to open an item, but may not be needed for a person with a disability.   Often a difference between what WCAG reports and what each individual user wants out of the site. 

For video, we close-caption the videos on YouTube and provide links in the record.   We could download cc/transcript files and include them in DSpace records, but that can be a lot of extra work and it's not clear how useful that would be because DSpace doesn't provide a framework that pulls cc files and videos into a seamless user experience. 

VTech:  What if DSpace could be constructed with accessibility features such as skip-navigation so that users using screen readers could get more directly to the content.  

Question:  What is the timeframe for providing accessibility guidance?
Answer:  Getting good clear guidelines to the developers as soon as possible would be very much appreciated.  

Getting feedback from users would be an important.  Testing with real users

What standards are institutions adopting as a standard?   Those requirements would be helpful. Kate Dohe's institution is requiring WCAG 2 AA by 2020.  Our concern is accessibility to the content, but to what extent are DCAT participants involved with the submitters to the repository to increase accessibility from the user end? 

Arizona:  Broad interest to the repository community as a whole- Perhaps an opportunity to connect to other groups such as DLF or other repository platforms to see if there are existing best practices or if we could develop them together. 

Steve Fernie:  Three things involved in providing accessibility.  Of concern beyond the repository management community.  Others have to deal with the same issues. 

  • DSpace platform itself - Is the software compliant with accessibility standards?
  • Incoming content- How to make sure that incoming content is accessible?
  • Legacy content - How to make legacy content accessible?  (if possible...)

Most helpful would be if DSpace as a system is WCAG compliant.   Develop a community of practice, too.  

Texas Digital Library is reviewing best practices now.   Interested in developments on the system side, since we can only control the incoming content. 

Very little control over the accessibility of ingested theses and dissertations.  Virginia Tech requires submission of ETDs in PDF/A.  Not enforced through ingest mechanism, but is a recommendation of the Graduate School. 

Chat transcript:

From Terry Brady to Everyone:  10:00 AM

From Samuel to Everyone:  10:02 AM
I'm Samuel Willis from Wichita State University Libraries. I'm Technology Development Librarian and help the IR Librarian with DSpace.

From Kimberly A Chapman to Everyone:  10:03 AM
Sorry forgot I was still muted!

From keithg to Everyone:  10:18 AM
I’m wondering if there’s an appropriate way that we could get blind users (as an example) to give feedback on DSpace 7, given what Kimberly is saying.

From Samuel to Everyone:  10:19 AM
That is a good idea.

From Kimberly A Chapman to Everyone:  10:25 AM
I agree with the needs for testing with real users and getting their feedback

From Kate Dohe to Everyone:  10:27 AM
We are - all public sites by 2020

From Kimberly A Chapman to Everyone:  10:40 AM
Yes, there is an accessibility requirement - I don’t know the details but I will find out

From Samuel to Everyone:  10:40 AM
We are building on WCAG 2.0.

From Anne Lawrence to Everyone:  10:41 AM
We are aiming for WAG2 AA
I mean WCAG 2 AA

From nslindsey to Everyone:  10:41 AM
Same here, we have an accessibility requirement. I'm not sure what the institution is aiming for, but I'm thinking it's probably the same as what others have mentioned here.

From Kimberly A Chapman to Everyone:  10:54 AM
I agree, I think determining what the requirements are and ensuirng the software is compliant is the first goal

From Kate Dohe to Everyone:  10:57 AM
this is our GA’s work from a couple years ago:
I know there is more data but we may have stored it internally; I’ll ask our IR manager.

From Felicity Dykas to Everyone:  11:00 AM
Great meeting!
From Samuel to Everyone:  11:00 AM
Okay, thank you all. Can someone add me to the attendance?

From Lisa Spiro (Rice) to Everyone:  11:00 AM

From nslindsey to Everyone:  11:00 AM
Thanks! Take care.

Call Attendees

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  1. Cool topic!

    I would assume that the opportunities and the challenges around accessibility are VERY different when it comes to DSpace 6 vs DSpace 7. So seeing what can and should be done on both fronts, and comparing it could be interesting.


    WCAG compliance checkers

    Documents / Compliance

    Many public institutions require things like VPAT or other compliance documentation. Would be interested to see how compliant we are already there, or how far we're off.

    Just a few random thoughts !!! Hope it helps.

  2. Hi DCATers,

    I'm very glad to see this topic on your agenda!  Unfortunately, cause of all the great energy around DSpace & too many DSpace-related meetings these days (and no way to be everywhere at once), it looks like I'll miss joining you in this discussion.

    But, in case it is helpful, here's a few suggestions I'd like you all to consider:

    If there is enough interest, I'd recommend considering formalizing these accessibility discussions in a DSpace Accessibility Working Group.  Such a group would just need a chair (or co-chairs).  This working group could be charged with drafting accessibility requirements/recommendations to DSpace developers (and perhaps more specifically, for DSpace 7 development).

    As no one on our DSpace 7 development team is an expert in accessibility, it would be wonderful to have a working group that can work with us on ensuring we are meeting the latest guidelines.  We could even setup (one or more, or regularly scheduled) check-ins between such an Accessibility Working Group and the DSpace 7 team.

    Feedback on DSpace 6 accessibility would also be welcome, and we would consider any accessibility issues as bugs.  But, if it were up to me, I'd like to really get more eyes on DSpace 7 accessibility – simply because we want a new user interface to show improvements in this area.

    Based on your discussion and what you decide, I'd love to talk more with interested folks on getting accessibility testing / analysis done on DSpace 7 (and even 6).  So, let me know how I can be of help/support in trying to move this idea forward.

  3. Hi

    I’m at Virginia Tech, and our Information Technology Accessibility policy was updated this year. It’s U.S.-centric, of course, but we’re required to meet the AA level of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 as part of section 508 compliance.

    In addition to the WCAG 2.0 AA compliance, we need to support captions on any videos in the repository.

    The documents contained within should also be accessible (example: PDFs should have text available so that they’re machine readable, and not just be “images”), but I understand that’s a separate issue from the compliance of the software.

    I think it’s great that there’s some time being spent on making DSpace 7 accessible. The accessibility experts on campus are working with some of us in the library to learn about improving our software, and to train us in accessibility issues, and have recommended the HTML CodeSniffer, WAVE, and SiteImprove as initial auditing tools.

    We meet with them often; maybe we could ask for some feedback on DSpace 7. They have good knowledge of how screen-readers in particular work.

    I’m interested in the idea of an accessibility working group.

    Links are below - I was having difficulty using the wiki editor to add them inline.


    WCAG 2.0

    Section 508:

    HTML CodeSniffer:



    1. Keith Gilbertson,

      With your depth of knowledge about DSpace and  your present job position, I think you would be an excellent fit for a DSpace accessibility team. We would all benefit by your knowledge and interest.

  4. I think it would be great if DSpace made it easy for us to check for accessibility for users with a colour vision impairment. This is very common (around five or ten percent of men cannot easily distinguish red from green), and often forgotten-about. There have been tools around for decades allowing easy simulation of this kind of colour impairment. So that when a team is thinking of customising their Dspace interface, they are prompted to view it through a simulator which allows them to see whether the different shades and hues on their pages will be clearly distinguishable for users with a colour impairment.

    1. P.S. there is some advice about colour impairment and other accessibility issues on the Southampton University website:

      Steve is asking about accessibility requirements - All organisations in the UK will have to comply with the Equality Act. In general, we usually have a notice to say that we can make any of our content available in large print or other format if a user requests it. We've not to my knowledge had any specific accessibility-related requests from users (end-users nor depositors).

      1. P.P.S. In the Research Data Service, we often put a link to the University's general statement on web accessibility onto all of our own websites:

  5. Here are some key points that I captured during the discussion

    • When is alt text noise to a user?

    Steve Fernie (Georgetown) mentioned that there are 3 aspects to consider to meet accessibility goals.

    1. DSpace Software - which standard will the DSpace Meet?
    2. Future content to be submitted (enforcing compliance)
    3. Legacy content (how to make it compliant)

    Steve Fernie and Kimberly Chapman both emphasized the need to get feedback from users navigating with accessibility assistance.  There may be no single objective way to implement a solution.  Subjective evaluation should inform the solution.

    My thoughts.  Consider drafting accessibility recommendations per collection type.

    • PDF Content (born digital)
    • PDF Content (digitized)
    • Photographs, Visual Art
    • Audio Content
    • Video Content

    Question (from Marianne Reed ?): is it possible for a user's screen reader to filter for accessibility tags of interest?

    I think the suggestion from Tim Donohueto create an accessibility working group is a necessary idea.

    1. I think that that was someone else's question.   I was wondering if DSpace could provide a different user experience for screen readers/adaptive devices, getting users to "important" content first, such as the abstract, file(s) containing the full text, or rights information (i.e. Anne's comment re: using skip-navigation on web page to get users to important content first.) 

      I called it "themes" during the meeting but it's really just a different navigation path for those using adaptive software.  Unsure how that could be implemented in DSpace, though.