Internal Accessible Tools We Use

Here at A360 our staff is a diverse combination of sighted and blind users; remote and local users; and technical and biz users. Accessibility for our internal toolset is obviously very important for us to be productive across a wide variety of situations. I thought we should highlight some of tools that we use internally and their level of accessibility:

Communication

G Suite: We use gmail, google calendaring and Drive extensively. All work well including Google Sheets, the gmail web client and others. Hats off to you, Google.

Skype: Skype is the most accessible voice tool outside of a mobile phone. For most internal calls we rely on Skype.

GoToMeeting: The GoToMeeting interface itself works fairly well with screen readers for meetings and screen sharing. However, it isn’t possible to read something being shared from someone else’s computer, so we try to have people read off what they are sharing when practical.

Slack: We use slack internally a lot. However, the web/desktop clients are not usable for our blind staff. The IRC clients (Instabird) have worked well enough connecting to Slack, with the caveat that you don’t get pinged with a new message unless you are specifically mentioned. However, multi-channel guests cannot use the IRC gateway, so they are out of luck and we’re still trying to figure that out. The native mobile apps are better but it isn’t practical to have our folks have to be listening to both a computer and their phone at the same time when collaborating. The Slack support staff has gotten back to us that they are working on accessibility, which is great. However, looking at the structure of the current web interface, it feels like it would need to be re-architected to get it really usable. We want to use Slack even more, but are in a bit of a holding pattern there.

Development

EdSharp: Our blind developers use EdSharp, an accessible text editor. It is no longer maintained but still solid.
Note: For a sighted software developer like me, listening to a blind developer hear the code they are working on is pretty incredible.

Firebug: Most of what we do is web-based, so Firebug for Firefox is an accessible development extension we use extensively. As Firebug will no longer be supported, we’re hoping the Firefox team makes accessibility an important aspect of their DevTools.

Other

Harvest: We haven’t tested setting up projects, etc. but the important parts, entering time, particularly in the Week view are fairly accessible. The folks at Harvest were very responsive when we pointed out a couple things that needed changing to make entering time usable for us, and we plan to follow up soon with a few more requested fixes we’re hoping they’ll also make. Thanks to them!

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