Much has changed since the term "open source" was coined ten years ago. The idea of sharing code, once relegated to research institutions and hobbyists, is starting to reach ubiquity in the consciousness of both government and business. More recently, this concept has extended beyond software. Everything from hardware to data to knowledge is becoming "open". Despite this trend towards openness--or perhaps due to the stark contrast openness provides--accessibility remains a difficult obstacle to overcome.
The issues surrounding accessibility take many forms. In the first article, Pierre-Paul Lemyre from the University of Montreal reminds us that everything old is new again. While the difficulties surrounding the open source licensing of software are still being resolved, those same difficulties are now being experienced when providing open access to data and knowledge. He proposes a global licensing repository as a solution towards providing access while complying with licensing terms. Marco Zehe from the Gnome Accessibility Project concentrates on ensuring that the features found in software applications are accessible to all, including those with disabilities.
Ensuring proper governance is another piece of the accessibility puzzle. After all, how can a business take advantage of open access if there aren't policies in place to govern proper usage? Andrew Back from Osmosoft proposes that governance, employee education, and tools to monitor compliance are needed for effective business operations. In this month's TIM Lecture Series, Michael Weiss from Carleton University discusses innovation through mashup ecosystems and Mahshad Koohgoli from Protecode discusses the importance of creating a bill of materials to manage software components.
In this month's question and answer section, Glenn McKnight, an open source consultant, answers the question "Besides compliance with legislation or standards which govern Internet accessibility, are there any business reasons for maintaining an accessible website?". We also have recent reports on open source business models, the challenges in providing open access, and a guide for open access authors.
As always, we look forward to your feedback.