How this accessibility expert uses Glitch for work

Making the web more accessible is a goal we should all strive for. Here are some ways Glitch can help.

In October 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Dominos in which they argued that they and other online stores shouldn’t be held to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, online businesses have a legal obligation to make their websites accommodating for people with disabilities. That includes ensuring that users are able to operate your website with assistive technology like text enlargement software or screen readers.

Many Glitch employees are passionate about accessibility but probably none more than Community Health Engineer Cassey Lottman. “In general, we’ve done a lot of work on the community site [to make it more accessible],” Cassey said. “I know there’s been some work done on the editor for accessibility but that’s really our next frontier in terms of making Glitch fully accessible.”

Cassey believes that there’s a lot about Glitch that makes it great for working on accessibility projects. “It’s easy to get a project up and running and have a link you can share with others and test across devices,” she explained. “Also, the ‘view source’ powers are really helpful - especially for apps where you’re using some Javascript library like React to generate your HTML.”

Cassey introduced me to Michael Fairchild, who works in accessibility and uses Glitch for work. Currently, Michael is an Accessibility Consultant at Deque Systems where he works with and teaches software development teams “how to make accessibility a core part of their development process, from design to deployment.” In his spare time he’s also the co-chair for the W3C ARIA-AT community group and works on a11ysupport.io. Michael lives and breathes accessibility and was kind of enough to answer a few questions about his projects on Glitch.

How have you used Glitch in your accessibility work?

In my development and accessibility work, I frequently use Glitch to build and test reduced use-cases. I commonly find myself asking these questions:

  1. If I code this thing this specific way, will it work with screen reader software?
  2. Why isn't this thing working with screen reader software or voice control software?

In those situations, I will spin up a simple page and write a reduced test case for the specific situation. I'll use only minimal styles, JS, and code to reduce the number of variables and the chance of interference. Then I'll test it on multiple platforms (Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android) for example. This lets me quickly determine if something should work, or give me a hint as to why something is not working.

Is there something that makes Glitch unique when creating accessibility focused project?

I find Glitch very simple and easy to use which makes development a breeze. Additionally, it's easy to add multiple pages, changes are saved automatically, and I can open a full page view with ease. This makes it very easy to test on multiple devices without my test being in something like an iframe and wrapped by another site, which can in theory, interfere with the tests.

What’s different about using Glitch for teaching vs using it to test out an idea for something yourself?

Glitch is great for both tasks, and I think there is a lot of overlap between the two. One thing that sets Glitch apart for teaching is that the memorable URLs make it easy to share projects verbally. For example, I recently gave a talk on Accessibility at a developer conference and wanted to provide an easy way for the audience to keep learning after the talk was over, so I created factual-raven.glitch.me and shared it during the talk.

Additionally, I recently used Glitch to create and deliver a screen reader workshop for a local Accessibility meetup that I help run. It was easy to create different pages for each module and share it with everyone that attended the workshop. Having the instructions in their browsers made it easy for attendees to follow links to more reading and reference the workshop materials in the future.

You can follow Michael on Twitter and learn more about accessibility with this Glitch app. Plus check out Cassey's Community Health Resources.