In other new directions I’ve slowly been moving most of my social attention to Mastodon. I created an account in April, found a few people I know who were crossposting from Twitter. I also found several people who hadn’t posted in a long time. It felt like I got to the party well after it was over, but it turned out to be opposite. It’s jumpin’ over there now, but in a much different way than Twitter, and I like it.
I still have my Twitter account, and still check in almost as much as before. Most of my web dev follows and mutuals have moved to Mastodon, and most of my non-web dev mutuals have not.
I’ll be curious to see where my friends and follows not currently on Mastodon end up, or if they leave Twitter at all. Tumblr will be adding support for ActivityPub, the protocol that powers the Fediverse, making it possible to follow Tumblr accounts from Mastodon and (presumably) vice versa. A few of my pals are already on Tumblr, and I think the ones hesitant to try Mastodon would be more likely to move to Tumblr.
As much as I’m enjoying it over there, it’s not without its problems. In addition to the high barrier to entry there’s also the often inhospitable whiteness of Mastodon, as well as the potential echo chamber effect. Hopefully all of these issues will improve with time and effort, but they serve as good reminders that technology, in this case the Fediverse, doesn’t solve problems in and of itself.
I recently wrote an article that will be published elsewhere in the coming weeks. It’s my first web dev byline! I didn’t have a goal of publishing elsewhere, but an opportunity came up at a project I like and I thought “what the hell”. I threw my hat in the ring and my proposal was accepted.
One thing that came out of that effort was that I discovered Assistiv Labs.
Assistiv Labs remotely connects you to real assistive technologies, like NVDA, JAWS, and Windows High Contrast Mode, using any modern web browser. Forget maintaining your own expensive devices & complicated virtual machines. Start testing in seconds.
I’m a Mac user, so I can’t test with screen readers other than VoiceOver, or in Windows High Contrast Mode. I have a Windows machine for work but I don’t have admin rights to install anything on it, and I don’t want to use it for personal use, like testing my projects. I’ve been considering getting Parallels to run Windows on my Mac, but honestly that just seems like a pain in the ass.
Assistiv Labs solves this problem as I can test using a browser and without having to install anything, or keep anything up to date. You can also test locally using a CLI (OK, you have to install that, but once and it’s easy!). It costs more than Parallels, but it’s worth for it for me given the lack of hassle.
Prior to discovering Assistiv Labs I had only tested my projects using VoiceOver. I’ve now tested them using NVDA and was happy to not find any issues. Of course I haven’t tested every page, and I’m not a screen reader user, so there’s always a chance there are issues.
The big area of improvement came from testing with Windows High Contrast Mode. I was able to make adjustments here and at other sites to make sure links, focus and hover states were visible. I found these articles helpful for fixing and understanding issues:
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