Coyote is a project developed by cultural heritage professionals and people from the accessibility community to encourage the use of visual description in museum practice. Originally intended to help people who are blind or have low vision experience images online, the project’s scope has expanded to encompass other uses for visual description, to serve both sighted visitors and those with impaired vision.
The Coyote software—an open-source, cloud-hosted toolkit developed by the project team—helps organizations with the workflow around creating, reviewing, managing, and publishing descriptions.
The project began as a partnership between the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Prime Access Consulting in 2015, during the development of a new MCA website. Museum websites are rich in images that are often undescribed, excluding people with limited or no vision. To address the problem, the MCA agreed to develop tools to enable to description of the thousands of images on its website. The first version of the Coyote software, locally hosted and integrated with the museum’s web content management system, presented images from the CMS needing description, and sent descriptions to be published to the site. You can read more about the MCA’s work on Coyote and accessibility in general in this case study.
Coyote has benefited from the enthusiastic support of funders who were quick to recognize its potential. The implementation of Coyote at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has been generously supported by Lois and Steve Eisen. The development of the Coyote Scavenger Hunt and the 2.0 version of the Coyote software was supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.