Menu Icon

Getting Apps Done

Blindfolded Development

June 06, 2019

Audio Player 15 Seconds Back Button Audio Player Play/Pause Button Audio Player 15 Seconds Forward Button



Joshua talks about accessibility and the misadventures of attempting to test the website for accessibility.
Be sure to check out our new Slack community to meet others who are facing the same things you are and have a chat about accessibility!
Also, be sure to check out The A11y Project as a starting point to learning more about accessibility!

Tune-in using
Listen on iTunes Listen on Spotify Listen on Google Play Listen on Overcast Listen on Tune In Link to our RSS Feed
  • 00:01 Joshua

    Welcome to getting apps done. A mostly non technical podcast with the goal of helping you deliver software with your hosts, Joshua Graham and Kel Piffner. Okay.

  • 00:14 Joshua

    Hey folks. So I have been working on a video about accessibility. Now I'm going to be honest, it has gone really, really badly.

  • 00:23 Joshua

    It's a little bit cheesy, but I decided to put myself in the shoes of somebody who has a disability, particularly somebody who's blind... and I put on a blindfold to try to test the Getting Apps Done website. Um, obviously we are a podcast so very naturally we should actually be quite accessible to people because a lot of what we are doing on the content we're creating is audio, which should be really great for people who can't see because, clearly, the audio, they don't have to see it. They can hear us yammering on about accessibility today.

  • 00:58 Joshua

    But the thing that I realized is I actually, there's a lot around our website and how you just get to the audio in the first place or I thought it was worth checking it out. And I tell clients all the time, the best way for me to figure out what their needs are is to put myself in their shoes; to sit down at their desk and do their job with them; to act as a trainee. I've mentioned this before.

  • 01:19 Joshua

    And I decided actually that should make sense with this as well. The best way for me to realize what somebody's needs are if they can't see the screen, is to not be able to see my own screen and to look at it from their point of view..... and I've mentioned this before, vision is so important to us. The fact that I say "look at it from their point of view", knowing full well that they aren't actually looking at it, but vision is so important to us that we have built our language around the concept of being able to see things, to have that vision of what we're looking at, what we're.... It's just so prevalent because it's so important to us. And there's no way that somebody who can see, can have that sort of context, can understand what it's like to not be able to see, to just look at it and see this is where I click, this is what I do.

  • 02:06 Joshua

    So I needed to put myself in that situation to understand what they needed and how I could present our website better for them before I could even consider starting to make any changes to it and understanding what those changes were.

  • 02:19 Joshua

    So I put on the blindfold and I turned on the video and I spent about 20 minutes just trying to get Chrome to work. I didn't even get to the webpage before I got frustrated and gave up. This is probably the first sign that it's really difficult to do this and really shouldn't be that hard just to load up a browser and go to a website, but it was, it was really difficult and I got frustrated and I will have to continue to try to record this and learn a lot more about how to use the system with the voiceover turned on and everything else so that I can learn that.

  • 02:51 Joshua

    But there were some things that I did pick up straight away when I did finally cheat a little bit and peek through and got myself onto the website so I could listen to what was going on. I noticed couple of things it luckily it wasn't actually that bad. It was navigable, but there were some things that really hit me straight away and I'll get to that in a minute because there were a couple of important things that I hadn't considered that really helped me there that I like to come back to when I'm talking about, why accessibility is important from a lot of different points of view.

  • 03:20 Joshua

    But one of the things that I was looking at is why didn't I do this before? Why don't I do this with other clients? And to be honest, I have pushed this with clients before and a couple of them have actually shot back to me. Things that I have said to them because I quite commonly will tell them, you know, don't try to build everything for everybody. You build it for the 90% of people who want widget X. If 10% of them want widget Y, you can't build it for them. Don't put in widget Y and upset the people who wanted widget X because then you're alienating 90% of your audience for the sake of 10 .

  • 03:56 Joshua

    And they shot this right back at me saying, well, not that many people have these disabilities and 90% of our audience or better, I won't have these. So we need to be catering to them instead and putting our budget on them. And while I understand what they're saying, there's a huge difference here.

  • 04:11 Joshua

    People who want widget, why versus widget x are making a choice. Nobody chooses to be blind. Well, I did want to put on the blindfold, but people who have disabilities don't choose that. That's not their choice. They don't get a choice in that matter. So for us to discount them for something that they don't have a choice and it's not their personal preference to be blind or to not be able to hear or to not be able to use a mouse or any number of other things that could hinder their ability to use our applications.

  • 04:42 Joshua

    That's not their choice. We can't... morally, if nothing else, discount them because they don't make up a huge percentage of our audience. There's wrong on all accounts. There's no way around that. That's just wrong.

  • 04:55 Joshua

    But I can see what they were saying because it kind of in my head, I've justified it that way too. Not Thinking it through because quite often we make decisions not fully thinking them through and that's exactly what happens there.

  • 05:06 Joshua

    And when you then ask them about it, it's just, okay, well how much is that going to cost me and what does that give me? Well, it doesn't get you anything. It gets your audience something. It puts you in a position where you are being accessible. You're allowing people to use your product. Who.. again... didn't make a choice to have difficulty using it the way you've designed it? No, you don't get anything to media out of it other than the fact that you have done the right thing.

  • 05:32 Joshua

    And that's hard to grasp in business terms sometimes, and I can kind of understand that because in business terms, sometimes doing the right thing isn't the most profitable. Fair enough. But profit isn't everything.

  • 05:44 Joshua

    And this is one of those cases where I think it's our responsibility and our duty to make sure that we put people over profits and it is easier to do that now because there are a lot more resources now than there were five, 10 years ago. There are communities built around this. There's a11y that's promoting this and ensuring that these things are being catered for when we are creating new standards for how browsers work, for how our standards of html and CSS work, et cetera.

  • 06:12 Joshua

    And it's a better time than ever before to do that. And people are more responsive to it because it is now starting to get into the media. People are paying more attention to it and that's fantastic. That's great because we need to, it's while it is not a huge percentage of our population that an important percentage, and again, it's a percentage who didn't choose to be in the situation and it's our duty to help them out.

  • 06:34 Joshua

    But even with all those things, it is still a hard sell because you're asking your clients to spend money and go against the grain of this 90 versus 10% thing, but for a very, very good reason. A specific reason that a lot of them aren't recognizing and knowing that is actually a good way to get the conversation going. When you do tell somebody, well, okay, yeah, I, I do normally tell you don't cater for the 10% but in this case we're actually talking about a 10% who don't have a choice. Most people get that immediately.

  • 07:04 Joshua

    They immediately registered. Yeah. Okay, fair enough. Yeah. The people who want widget Y instead of widget X, that's their choice. They're making a personal preference, but people who can't see the app, that's not their choice. We need to help them.

  • 07:18 Joshua

    Now, the other thing that I wanted to give back to here is while I was doing all this, I started to notice that the way I was testing it was different because I couldn't see it. I was relying on a method that's a lot slower in a lot of ways because when you go to a website, your eyes scan it really quickly. You identify the pieces you want and you go straight to it. But I had to sit and listen to all the different pieces of it until I got to the piece I want. And I started to realize that there were a lot of pieces missing, not just for people who couldn't see the website, but for everybody.

  • 07:46 Joshua

    I started to realize that actually our front page takes you straight into the most recent episode because when I built it. I thought that's mostly what people are gonna want. They're gonna want to listen to the latest episode, which is probably true, but there wasn't a section in there that told them what the podcast was about in the first place.

  • 08:00 Joshua

    I completely missed that until I sat down and I listened to the whole thing and realized, wait a minute, I never introduced what this is. It just kind of, it went through immediately to talking about, "this is episode 23" and getting into the podcast itself. And while that's good that we're getting to the podcast quickly, there was no introduction. There was no explaining who I was or why anybody should listen to me at all. I'm still not convinced everybody should... but there was nothing, there was nothing there except this is the podcast episode. Here you go.

  • 08:31 Joshua

    And going through that process, looking at it from a different point of view, helped me to recognize things that I had completely missed when I was just looking at it because my eyes immediately went to the parts that I was concerned about and that was it. That was the end of the story. I hit publish and that was done. But by taking the time to go through each piece of the website and understand what that flow was, the user journey, as I was going through the initial page, I started to realize that I was missing things and I was missing good opportunities to explain to people what was going on, what the value they were going to get out of the podcast was, and why they would want to listen to the first episode in the first place.

  • 09:07 Joshua

    So it's not just about helping these 10%. There are a lot of really good benefits to slowing down, taking the time, looking at the content that you have and how that flows for people who can see people who can't see people, who can hear people who can't hear. Uh, uh, luckily for people who can't hear, we do have the transcripts, but even that, I noticed some of the transcripts aren't that great because we run them through a transcript tool and then we try to correct them, but it's usually a kind of a quick job. And now I'm starting to think, well, no, no, I need to spend as much time making sure those transcripts are correct as I do. Making sure that the content of the podcast is good. It's all very important because some people are going to need that.

  • 09:46 Joshua

    Even if they can hear I quite often I don't have the ability because I'm in a position where I can't listen to a podcast. I'll still read the transcripts because I want to get the content out of it, so it's, it's a lot of different people in a lot of different circumstances and catering to those and helping them out is a really great thing. It's a good way to improve things for your audience.

  • 10:06 Joshua

    That's all I've got for today. I will put some transcripts up.. and I will make sure that they're right... at Please be sure to check out my website at and Kel's website at

  • 10:19 Joshua

    If you do know a lot about accessibility or you're passionate about it, we would love to talk to you. And one thing that I really, really now want to do is find somebody who is an expert on the subject and bring them on. So... First off, they can educate me.. And second, so they can help everybody else understand what the benefits and the ways that we can promote this and that we can convince clients that it's well worth investing in.

  • 10:41 Joshua

    Until next time, thanks for listening.