Improving Usability, Inclusivity, and Accessibility in 3.3
In our third “Feature Friday” installment, we take a look at new features in OJS/OMP/OPS 3.3 helping to make our software truly open.
At PKP, we believe openness is about sharing freely (without cost) and sharing widely (without barriers). But what happens when what we think is open isn’t open to all? When your software cannot be fully experienced by assistive technologies, or when it uses exclusionary terminology?
Over the years, PKP has made many attempts to improve the usability and accessibility of our software. We redoubled our efforts in 2015 by tackling accessibility in the OJS 3.0 beta. Then in 2019, after receiving community input at a development sprint, we hired an external contractor to conduct an OJS accessibility audit. Most recently, our community of users created the PKP Accessibility Interest Group (AIG) to educate, inform, contribute to, and advocate for accessibility in PKP software.
We’ve made a great deal of progress since our last accessibility update. We are continuing to make enhancements to our software to address not just accessibility, but overall usability and inclusivity needs as well. Here are a few notable improvements in 3.3 (with corresponding GitHub issue number).
In our workflows update, we mentioned changes to our software’s dashboard. Specifically, we have refactored the editorial and administrative backend. With this change, users who only have access to submissions (subeditors, assistants, authors and reviewers) will no longer see a navigation menu, and we no longer use pop-overs, which decrease accessibility. This improvement streamlines the user experience, in addition to meeting accessibility goals.
The terms Blind/Double-Blind Review were replaced in 3.3 with Anonymous Reviewer/Anonymous Author. Further, all of the PKP organization’s “master” branches in our GitHub Repository have been renamed to “main.”
In OJS 3.3, all issues raised in last year’s accessibility audit of the Default theme have been addressed. Accessibility issues outlined in the audit report and completed tickets can be viewed in the PKP Accessibility GitHub Project.
Update: Many of our software users have shown interest in web accessibility improvements to meet local legislation and institutional requirements. In the coming weeks we will receive and share an Accessibility Statement that outlines WCAG compliance and any concerns that still need to be addressed. With work completed on the Default theme (our software’s “front-end”), our next step will be to assess the user dashboard, or “backend.” We are also committed to ongoing usability testing with users with disabilities using assistive technologies and creating resources to help journals publish accessible content. If you would like to contribute to this work, please contact us.
While we are proud to see changes in 3.3, there is still more to be done to improve the usability, inclusivity, and accessibility of our software. Our thanks to all of you – our community of software users – for supporting this work, both through your requests and contributions.