Sakai LMS Accessibility Community’s Successes Featured at OW2con’24 in Paris-Châtillon

June 11, 2024
Sakai Community

Apereo Foundation’s Sakai project is the leading open source, community-driven learning management system supported by a diverse community of academics, learners, and technologists.  Sakai’s Accessibility Team Lead, Chris Knapp, traveled to Paris, France, to present on Sakai’s successes at OW2con. This presentation was featured as part of an Open Source Accessibility breakout session at the conference, coordinated by the OSAI, Open Source Accessibility Initiative.

OW2con, a European conference organized by OW2, the international community of professional open source software, brings together developers, IT companies, academics, and non-profit organizations for two information-packed days. The conference included four keynotes, four breakout sessions, and 30 talks from international experts, with presentations ranging from tech topics to business and ethical issues of open source.

Knapp presentation detailed Sakai’s multi-year journey to develop and implement a community-sourced approach to accessibility. This long-term strategy led to Sakai being able to produce its own VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) utilizing internal partners and resources. 

“Along the way to creating the Sakai 22 and 23 VPATs, we constantly challenged the status quo and searched for ways to improve every part of the VPAT creation process,” explained Knapp. “What emerged is an entirely reimagined, streamlined way of doing VPATs that we plan to use for all future Sakai releases.”

“To us in the Sakai community, VPATs are more than paperwork – they’re personal,” said Dr. Charles Severance, Chief Architect of the Sakai LMS and current Sakai PMC (Project Management Committee) Chair. 

Sakai prides itself on its commitment to and investment in accessibility and has multiple blind/low-vision testers actively supporting the product. In addition to Knapp, who is statutorily blind and has a disability-owned business called Accessiversity, Sakai has an ongoing partnership with Vision-Aid. This non-profit provides IT training to blind/low-vision individuals in India.

“Being able to produce our own VPATs is just the next evolution in our community-sourced approach to accessibility,” explained Severance, “This is a strategy that not only values the contributions of people with disabilities, it welcomes them into our community and empowers them to use their unique skills and expertise to make transformative projects like this happen.”

About Sakai:
Sakai represents a fundamentally different approach to the learning management system. Sakai's direction and feature set originate from within higher education to address the dynamic needs of a global academic community. The Sakai open-source community energetically and nimbly advances the Sakai platform, as educators and developers from various institutions turn great ideas into exciting possibilities for faculty teaching and student learning. Sakai is one of several education-focused, open source projects under the Apereo Foundation.

For more information about the Sakai Accessibility Strategy, visit:



Chris Knapp
Sakai Accessibility Team Lead

Dr. Charles Severance
Sakai PMC Chair

Dr. Wilma Hodges
Sakai Community Manager 

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