illustration for Develop Accessible Web Apps with React with Erin Doyle

episode 10

Develop Accessible Web Apps with React with Erin Doyle

Check out Erin's course Develop Accessible Web Apps with React to learn about making your React apps accessible!


Taylor Bell: Hey Erin, thanks for joining me today.

Erin Doyle: Thank you, Taylor.

Taylor Bell: Yeah, I wanted to ask a little bit about your new Creating Accessible React Apps course. So why is accessibility important?

Erin Doyle: Yeah, I mean accessibility has been important for a long time, but I think we've gotten to a point now where it's critical. As web developers, we all have to know how to write accessible apps. The U.S. census gives numbers of about 20% of people self identify as having a disability of some sort. And so the numbers are probably higher than that right there. But then there's people with age-related disabilities and limitations. There are people with temporary limitations, so the numbers are really high. It's probably like one in four people or more have an issue at some point or another that impacts their ability to use the web.

Erin Doyle: So we need to make sure that everybody can use our applications. If we've got something on our site that's preventing someone from being able to perform a critical function, that's a big deal. And normally we would see those as showstopper bugs if someone couldn't perform a function on our application. And so we have this population of people who can't do things that we're not necessarily paying attention to, that we have to address. So it has to become part of our normal workflow as developers.

Taylor Bell: Are there any misconceptions that you've seen people have about how to implement things in a way that is accessible?

Erin Doyle: I mean, I think a lot of people think it's overwhelming, it's too much, it's going to take too much time. They're going to have to take way more time to develop and test and that they're going to have to ask for permission from their product owners in their companies to pay for it and whatnot. And I don't think it has to be that big or that all-encompassing. And I don't think we should look at it as something extra or different that we have to do. It really should just be part of our normal development workflow.

Taylor Bell: Cool. And so speaking of the development workflow, can you walk me through the journey that the learner will take on your course?

Erin Doyle: Yeah. So the main goal of the format of this course is to show people how do you test your application for issues. So we're going to go through a number of tools. Some of them are sort of automated auditing tools, and those should be really easy to add to our workflow and just always be running and always be finding issues for us. And then we're also going to use sort of the, I call them the experience tools. So the tools our users are using, and that's screen readers and a number of different high contrast tools and using a keyboard only.

Erin Doyle: So we have to experience our apps in the same way that our users might be in order to identify where there are issues. So once we learn how to test for these issues, then it's a lot easier to learn how do you fix each of those issues and just sort of pick them off one by one. So the goal is teach people how to test, teach people how to fix a lot of the basics, and then teach them how to learn to learn. Like how do you go from there? How do you learn how to fix the things that you're finding?

Taylor Bell: Awesome. And so after somebody works through your course, what should they do to put their new knowledge into action?

Erin Doyle: I think they need to jump right into their web applications and start running these testing tools and find the issues. And then just as a checklist, start knocking them off one by one.

Taylor Bell: Cool. Well thanks so much for joining me and I'm excited for your first Egghead course.

Erin Doyle: Yeah, me too. I'm really excited. Thanks a lot, Taylor.

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