How to Build Accessible Apps with Adam Rodenbeck

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking to Adam Rodenbeck, Senior User Experience Team Member at Salesforce, to wrap up our two-part series focused on building accessible apps. We look at his experience developing accessible apps from both the admin and the developer side of things and do a demo live on the pod of what it’s like to navigate with a screen reader.

Join us as we talk about how a screen reader works and the technology behind it, Adam’s amazing journey through tech, and what you can do to bring accessibility to your users.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Adam Rodenbeck.

Adam’s journey to Salesforce.

“When I started my Salesforce journey, I sent an email out that said I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I saw this presentation from one of the accessibility specialists at Salesforce,” Adam says, “I always wanted to do something with computers that would give back to the blind community.” Adam got his start at a nonprofit, training people who had lost their sight later in life to use the computer again, but this role was an opportunity to put together everything he loves in one role.

“We started using Salesforce as our system of record to store information on all the clients,” Adam says, “and it blew me away just how well it was working.” In 2009, it was rare to encounter an enterprise software program that was reasonable to navigate with a screen reader, and that helped him dive into the platform. He eventually found his way into the IT department as a developer.

“I work with designers on new features on the platform,” Adam says, “that’s usually discussing what it’s going to take to make this accessible, how is the keyboard interaction going to work? What are the things that are going to be visual that might need to get called out to a person who is using a screen reader?” From there, it’s working with engineering teams to actually make that happen.

The basics of screen readers and how to test for them.

A screen reader has two pieces to it. For one thing, it’s actually reading the screen aloud (and you get to decide things like how the voice sounds). But the other component is a Braille display, which connects via USB or Bluetooth and represents what’s on the screen in Braille with dots that can be raised and lowered. “Because I work a lot with code, I really need to have that Braille reinforcement to read what’s on the screen at the same time that it’s being read to me,” Adam says.

“If you’re an admin and you’re using the components that Salesforce put together, then accessibility should be available to you,” Adam says, “but a quick test to make sure that everything is working well is to see if you can get to the control you want by tabbing down the screen.” Sometimes it’s arrow keys, but try using the keyboard and seeing if you can get to anything a user is going to need.

Having conversations to improve accessibility.

“If a designer can describe something to me, how it should act or what they want to happen, and make me, as someone who is blind, understand what it is that their design does it gives us both a better understanding,” Adam says. If you can’t describe your customizations in a way that everyone can understand, you’re probably not doing it right.

The key to creating something that works for your users is to have conversations with the people you want to support. Screen reader users often use the find command, so they want as much information as possible on the screen to get to what they need quickly. Screen magnifier users, on the other hand, are looking for an uncluttered display since everything is enlarged for them. Do your research, but also have the conversations with the people you are supporting.

Hear how a screen reader user navigates Salesforce for yourself.

In order to make things that work better for a screen reader, you need to understand what it’s like to use one. We do our first ever demo on the pod, to show you the difference between a page layout optimized for a tabbing experience versus a page layout optimized for a find experience. It’s hard to explain, so take a listen for yourself and think about what you might be able to do to help make things easier.

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce Admin. I’m Gillian Bruce. Today, we are wrapping up our two part series focused on accessibility. Now, we heard from Sunday last week about what accessibility means, what an accessible app means. Today, we’re going to dig down a little deeper and talk to someone who actually develops successful apps, has experienced both from the admin side, the developer side and now is working at Salesforce. We’re talking to Adam Rodenbeck. Now, he’s a senior user experience team member here at Salesforce. He’s got an incredible personal story and he’s really passionate about making apps accessible. Not only making apps accessible, but really helping others understand how important accessibility is and what opportunities that really opens up.

Gillian Bruce: Adam also is going to give us a very special treat. He’s going to give us a live demonstration of what it’s like to read an account page with a screen reader. Two different ways to really demonstrate the power of optimization for different types of users. So, thinking about using compact layouts, accordion features, tabbing through a page, or using a find feature. We’ll talk more about that in the interview. Without further ado, let’s get Adam on the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Adam, welcome to the podcast.

Adam Rodenbeck: Thank you so much. It’s awesome to be here.

Gillian Bruce: So happy to have you on the podcast. We’re talking about a subject that I have been learning a lot about lately. We had our first episode talking to Sunday about an overview of accessibility and getting introduced to that, especially for our Admin audience, and I’m excited to have you on to further that discussion, but before we get into that, there’s a question I like to ask to help introduce you to the audience. That question is, Adam, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Adam Rodenbeck: It’s a crazy question because when I started my Salesforce journey, I sent an email out and it kind of said, like, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I saw this presentation from one of the accessibility specialists at Salesforce on accessibility, and I’m like, “Yes, that’s it.” Like, I always knew that I’m blind myself and so I wanted to do something to do with computers that would give back to the blindness community, but I really didn’t know what that would be. If it was like programming a screen reader or I did for a little while training people who were blind to use the computer again, people who had lost their sight later in life, but it was all like, “I don’t really know,” until I figured out that I could put together the programming and the accessibility and the love that I have for Salesforce into this one big thing and do accessibility work at Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: That is awesome. How did you first come into the Salesforce ecosystem? How did you first learn about Salesforce?

Adam Rodenbeck: I worked at a nonprofit. That’s where I was teaching Assistive Technologies, and that’s all screen readers and screen magnifier, things like that. I was teaching in our Assistive Tech lab and we started using Salesforce as our system of record to store information all the clients. It kind of blew me away just how well it was working. This is like 2009 when screen readers and the web and it really was good for enterprise software. So, using an enterprise software package that I could reasonably navigate with a screen reader was pretty impressive to me. I spent a lot of time because it also was this database, and as a computer science major, that was a big thing to me. So, I spent a bunch of time just kind of investigating it. Eventually, I ended up in our IT department and just accidentally happened to become a developer.

Gillian Bruce: Accidentally becoming a developer? I don’t think that there’s anything accidental about that. I mean, you studied computer science. Tell me what drew you to computer science. I’m always fascinated to know how these things get sparked for folks.

Adam Rodenbeck: I think it’s really the, I liked exploring how things are put together and what makes them work, and that initially was mechanical things. So, taking apart toys and trying to figure out how to get them back together, which didn’t always work. So, when I figured out that in the computer world, you can break things and fix them and they go back together a lot simpler than fitting them back in a package that somebody spent tons of time in the factory making work, it made more sense to me and a it was a great chance to understand how different things worked. So, telephone systems and I was all over the place. Anything that had to do with computers, I geeked out on.

Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome. Okay. So, you started early, you’ve always been interested in figuring things out. I love that. That methodology, that thinking clearly has helped lead you to where you are today, and you’re bringing together this passion that you have. So, tell me a little bit about actually what you do today at Salesforce.

Adam Rodenbeck: I like to think of my role as a consultant. I work with both designers and our engineering teams, and initially with the designers to figure out, here’s a new design, it’s a new idea of some feature that’s going to be on the platform. That’s initially just discussing what is it going to take to make this accessible? How is the keyboard interaction going to work? What are the things that are going to be visual that might need to get called out to a person who say is using a screen reader. Then walking that through the process of getting to the engineering teams and helping them understand, now that you have these specs from a designer, how can you actually implement that to be accessible. What needs to happen when a person tabs from one control to the next control? Or what keyboard buttons should they be pressing to make certain things happen?

Gillian Bruce: One of the things we talked about with Sunday, and this was a moment I think I told you about this when we were first talking about planning this podcast is, a colleague of mine, Marc Baizman was giving a demo in middle of a user group meeting and the mouse went out and he had to tab through the demo and I had never seen that done before in Salesforce, and I was just fascinated, because I was like, “All right, well, here we go.” I had no idea it works that well, period.

Adam Rodenbeck: It’s a super great example of when you have a temporary disability. It’s not that you couldn’t otherwise have used the mouse, but it doesn’t exist anymore.

Gillian Bruce: Technology said, “Nope, you don’t get to do that.” Let’s talk a little bit more like, you mean, you talk about screen readers, some of the technologies that are used to help drive accessibility. You’ve been in the space for a while. Tell me, I mean, I think screen reader reads the screen. Can you tell me a little bit more about how it works and how folks interact with it?

Adam Rodenbeck: Yes. A screen reader kind of has two pieces to it. Obviously, it’s reading. So, there’s a synthesized voice that there are all kinds of different ones of those. You can pick whether it sounds like a male or sounds like a female, people can vary the rate and the pitch and to make all of these tweaks to make that sound better to their ear, but it also will work with what’s called a Braille display. That’s this cool little box that it’s usually USB, some of them are Bluetooth, but they connect to the computer and can represent with these dots that can be raised and lowered in Braille what’s on the screen. So, the screen reader is the interface between both of those.

Adam Rodenbeck: Me personally because I do a lot with code, I really need to have that Braille reinforcement to read what’s on the screen at the same time that it’s being read to me, and then it also helps that I don’t have to listen to like, semi colon, open parentheses, close parentheses and things like that.

Gillian Bruce: I don’t know. That sounds thrilling. Well, I do think that’s a really good point. So, you actually said you are this accidental developer, which is an interesting term. Learning how to develop on a platform, I mean, I know for me, even when I was trying to learn how to write a formula, I had a hard time and I wasn’t relying on those technologies but my brain just didn’t work that way. That’s a whole another conversation. But the the idea of … I mean, this is a language. It’s a whole another language you’re learning. How is it, like for you, learning how to build and develop on a platform? What were some of the challenges that you had maybe with the Salesforce platform because I know we talk a lot about people’s journeys, learning how to built on Salesforce, what was it like for you? What were some of the challenges that you had along the way?

Adam Rodenbeck: Some of the initial challenges were really trying to figure out what was going to be a good coding environment for me, so, it’s kind of difficult and not just in Salesforce, but all the way around, what is the best ID? So, what is the best developer experience that’s going to work with a screen reader? That was a challenge, and it was really a lot of browsing around the various developer forums and Stock Exchange and seeing what did other people use, and then playing with that, and seeing what does work with a screen reader. So for me, I landed on Eclipse and the Force.com IDE. This was like 2013. That all worked really, really well. Impressively well, actually, with the screen reader. So, that was my initial development platform.

Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome. What are some cool nerdy things that you’ve built that you’ve been really excited about?

Adam Rodenbeck: One of the most exciting or to me exciting anyway, things that I worked on was, I worked at a consulting company, we were an implementation partner and we were actually working on a project of converting over a company that used a ton of spreadsheets. They needed these crazy formulas for calculating net present value, which is a super accounting thing that I don’t really understand, but-

Gillian Bruce: Get another language.

Adam Rodenbeck: … but they told me here is what happens, and it’s all very recursive, and it calculates stuff out over like 10 years. So, each year, you have to take the value from the year before and I had to figure out a way to get Apex to do that and do it in a way that wouldn’t time the system out. So, it took quite a while for me to piece it all together, but I had such fun with it because I’m a crazy math geek and so it all really was interesting to me even though I don’t think I still fully understand the accounting principle.

Gillian Bruce: Well, you don’t have to know all the details in order to take those spreadsheets and build some automation in there and bring them in the system.

Adam Rodenbeck: Exactly.

Gillian Bruce: That’s really cool. Anytime we can hear a story about turning spreadsheets and getting rid of the spreadsheets and putting them into Salesforce, we’re all about it. Big fans [inaudible 00:11:01]. What are some maybe surprises that you’ve had along the way in terms of learning how to build on the platform?

Adam Rodenbeck: Surprises.

Gillian Bruce: They could be happy surprises. They could be bad surprises.

Adam Rodenbeck: See, one of the things early on, I wanted to do whatever it was I could with Salesforce, and an initial thing was a struggle with the Page Layout Editor and trying to manipulate things. There’s a lot of drag and drop and it’s something that accessibility is still working on to try to work itself out, but the fact that that didn’t work so well and everyone else is like, “Yes, you can do all these cool things with Salesforce and just move stuff around and whatever people want and the Page Layout.” So, I guess turning that negative experience of not being able to use the Page Layout Editor in the best way, that’s what pushed me into learning how to developing Visualforce because I’m like, “How am I going to make this work?” I’ll just build the whole page myself.

Adam Rodenbeck: I did that and that’s really what got my career going and what launched me into moving from the nonprofit and to actually working at a partner. That kind of non accessible experience drove me to create my own path.

Gillian Bruce: I love that drive to figure it out and then opening up a whole new maybe kind of path for you to think about doing and here you are. That’s very cool. It’s very cool. I know Visualforce is one of those things that when people learn it or have moments like that, learning how to do a new skill, figuring out a problem, it’s that feeling of like, “I got this. Okay, what else can I do?” It’s very cool.

Adam Rodenbeck: All along the way, it’s that whole intriguing piece of, “Oh, here’s what a Salesforce page looks like.” Then you look at, “Oh, here are the component. I can make it look exactly like that. It’s almost like it’s Salesforce.” So, it was fun.

Gillian Bruce: Speaking of Page Layout Editor, and digital for us, let’s talk a little bit about Lightning. Lightning has been around since 2015, and one of the things that I briefly chatted with Sunday about was that Lightning, is actually built to be a little bit more accessible at heart. Can you talk to me a little bit more about maybe the experience in lightning versus Classic?

Adam Rodenbeck: One of the places, I think, that is especially better is Chatter, it’s an example I like to use because we’ve done a whole lot to indicate to a person what is happening. Some of the things that didn’t work so well in Classic was that as pop ups happened, and say, your add mentioned somebody, it was difficult to tie together the list of people’s names and the actual text field that you’re typing in. That’s a limitation that we overcame with Lightning and now we’ve made Chatter an experience that should be just like what our cited counterparts are doing, where now you can mention somebody and arrow down to the list and hit enter and it includes that app mentioned.

Adam Rodenbeck: That and another really big piece is keystrokes. We’ve included some shortcut keys for our power users, and also for people who are using keyboard only to get around. They are mainly for the console. If you’re using say, service console or sales console, but a few of them crossover and they’re actually available to anybody. If you simply hit control/ on the PC, or I think it’s command/ on a Mac, it will show you a list of keyboard keystrokes that are available.

Gillian Bruce: Yes, I actually remember I think when we released keystrokes, the admin community was like, “Hurray, this is great. I can do things so much more quickly in the app.” So, I have used keystrokes for sure. I think, it’s interesting to think some of these things that maybe we develop for accessibility help everybody in the long run. It kind of help drive efficiency for everyone building and doing their job.

Adam Rodenbeck: Yes. I’m glad you said that because it’s a lot about the universal design principle. The fact that accessibility isn’t something that’s just for people with disabilities, but it really improves everybody’s experience, and may be is not something that you use every day, but when that thing happens and you can’t use the mouse, then it’s there, and it’s available to you.

Gillian Bruce: That’s great. One question that I would love to ask you, as an admin or maybe even a developer, when you’re building an app, what are some good ways to check for accessibility? What are some good testing principles or checklist that you would recommend using?

Adam Rodenbeck: For anybody who’s developing an accessibility for the first time, even if you’re just building something out, if you’re an admin and you’re using the components that Salesforce put together, then accessibility should be available to you, but a quick test to make sure that everything is working well is to see if you can tab through. So, can you get to the control that you want by tabbing down the screen? Tab is not the only way to work with things, so, maybe if you get into a list, it’s arrow keys to navigate within the list, but that first step of just making sure that you can actually use the keyboard and get to everything that your user is going to need.

Gillian Bruce: That’s an easy thing to do. I can imagine going and doing that. Like we mentioned, sometimes, unintentionally, you have to figure that out anyway. That’s a good test.

Gillian Bruce: Now, get ready for a first ever demo on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. Adam is going to treat us to a very special demo of a screen reader demonstrating the two differences between a page layout optimized for a tabbing experience versus a page layout optimized for a find experience. For those of you who have never had a screen reader, get ready. This is really interesting. I’d love for you, as Adam is giving this demo, try and see if you can visualize what this page looks like as he’s tabbing through, he’s getting with the screen reader is giving back to him and he guides us along that way, but think about in your head as you’re walking your dog, driving your car, try and visualize this page that Adam is describing in this demo.

Adam Rodenbeck: First we’re going to take a look at just a standard page layout that has an account view with different tabs and show how a screen reader user might navigate through that and then alternatively we have a simpler layout which just has everything on one tab rather than having to switch back and forth.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. All right. So, let’s dig in. I want to hear from the screen reader.

Adam Rodenbeck: Here’s just our standard account page layout.

Speaker 3: The title is, books upon books at article bar Salesforce-Google Chrome. Books upon books at article bar Salesforce-

Adam Rodenbeck: What I’m going to now do is go down through the page using screen reader navigation to move by heading. That’s just a quick method that screen reader users have to jump between various sections of the page.

Speaker 3: We found no potential duplicates of this account heading level two. Contacts left [inaudible 00:18:17] in one right [inaudible 00:18:19] heading level two link.

Adam Rodenbeck: We can see right here this heading said that its contacts. I’m actually on the related tab. So, if I’m a screener user and I’m looking for something that’s on the details tab, say it’s the account number that I want, I need to go back up the page to find my tab set.

Speaker 3: We found no potential duplicates of this account heading level two. Tabs heading level two.

Adam Rodenbeck: So, that said tabs.

Speaker 3: Related tab use just key plus, alt plus and to move to controlled element.

Adam Rodenbeck: I hear now that this is the related tab and I’m just going to use my arrows to switch to detail.

Speaker 3: Details tab selected use just key plus alt plus and to move to controlled element two or three.

Adam Rodenbeck: So, it tells me that this is the second of the third. So, related details and this should be news.

Speaker 3: News tab selected used.

Adam Rodenbeck: Cool. So, we’ll go back to detail.

Speaker 3: Details tab selected you. Tab panel, Adam Rodenbeck link.

Adam Rodenbeck: Now I know that I’m in the tab panel for that detail section, and a real typical thing at this point would be to just use a fine command to look for the account number.

Speaker 3: Virtual find.

Adam Rodenbeck: Now we’ll.

Speaker 3: Account number 12345.

Adam Rodenbeck: That’s a pretty simple method for actually jumping between tabs and then finding the info that I want, but depending on how it is that you typically use this, you might find it simpler to have this on one page layout. So, I’ll switch here to our demo account.

Speaker 3: Demo account, vertical bar salesforce-Google Chrome.

Adam Rodenbeck: On this page layout, we have everything all in one spot. So, there are the related lists, all of my account details, and depending on what your users prefer, it might be easier to use some of the expand collapsible sections so our user can hide things that they don’t want. If you have address information in one part, maybe, or your account information, SLA, things like that. You can collapse those down and a person can again jump by headings. I’ll do that.

Speaker 3: Tabs heading level two.

Adam Rodenbeck: This is just a single tab.

Speaker 3: Details tab selected use just keep-

Adam Rodenbeck: You also could get rid of the tab set entirely and just have your detail component.

Speaker 3: Details heading level two.

Adam Rodenbeck: Here are the details.

Speaker 3: Contacts heading level two link.

Adam Rodenbeck: That’s followed immediately by the related lists that are available on the page.

Speaker 3: Contacts left [inaudible 00:21:05] zero right [inaudible 00:21:06] heading level two link. Opportunities left [inaudible 00:21:09] zero right [inaudible 00:21:10] heading level two link. Cases left [inaudible 00:21:13] zero right [inaudible 00:21:14] heading level two link.

Adam Rodenbeck: You can see this account we have contacts, opportunities, cases, and for each one it tells me there are zero. So, it’s kind of a boring account here, but it demonstrates though that on one single page I’m able to see the information as well as the related list. So, if I’m in the section of the page which has the cases and I kind of wonder, “What was the account number?” I can again.

Speaker 3: Virtual find. [inaudible 00:21:43]

Adam Rodenbeck: We’ll now search for account number.

Speaker 3: wrapping to top, account number.

Adam Rodenbeck: The screener even told me that it wraps to top, so, it was able to find down the page. There was no account number so it started over at the top of the page and now I do have my account number available.

Speaker 3: 12813.

Adam Rodenbeck: There you have it. So, kind of an easy way to change things around just depending on what is more convenient for your particular users.

Gillian Bruce: All right. Now that we’ve got the demo, let’s get back into the interview where Adam talks about some of the amazing parts about his work with accessibility, and some of the amazing things that he has seen as outcomes from his work.

Adam Rodenbeck: I think that maybe one of the best things that I’ve gotten in dealing with accessibility is talking to designers. If they can describe something to me and how it should act or what they want to happen, and me being somebody who is blind and not able to see the screen, they can make me understand what it is that their design does, then I think it gives us both a better understanding. So, they become a little more in touch with what they’re designing, and then I have an understanding of what it should do to help guide them down that road. That’s a great place that I think accessibility bridges a gap between people, maybe with a disability, and then people who are unfamiliar with the realm entirely.

Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. I think that’s a really great example. One of the things, as Admins, especially as we’re building out customizations, and trying to figure out how to customize the app, if you cannot describe it in a way that everyone can understand, you’re probably not doing it right.

Adam Rodenbeck: Right. I think that if you take that a step further, one of the things is, what do I need to do if I’m going to interact with this particular person? The biggest thing is that you should talk to that person and try to understand what their difficulties are, and how can you make it better for them. If it’s rearranging things on a page layout in a certain way so that they can get to it more efficiently, it depends on what the person is using. If they’re using a screen reader or if they’re using a screen magnifier. So, a person with the screen magnifier is going to be really concerned about how much real estate things take up on the screen. That person might be more interested in having less things on a particular page layout, and they might use things like tabs, whereas a screen reader user wants to be able to get to as much information as quickly as possible, and they might do that through using the find command.

Adam Rodenbeck: So, if you think about just a standard Control F, or Command F to bring up the find box, if it’s not on the screen, then their find won’t be able to locate it. So, that person would probably prefer to have more information available to them, less things buried under accordions and tabs and expandable collapsible things, and just have it visible because they’re going to use other navigation methods to get to it rather than just scrolling.

Gillian Bruce: I think that’s a really interesting point because even just customizing this page layouts for different folks who prefer to have information displayed in different ways, I mean, that’s something really easy that any of us can do that customization. So, the idea of using the accordion, using those different Lightning components versus having all of the information just there on the page, that’s an easy customization that we could do within a few minutes.

Adam Rodenbeck: Absolutely. But it’s most important to talk to that user and find out, “Which one is going to work better for you?” Rather than doing this blanket. This is the profile that I’ve been told is most accessible, so therefore, that fits you. Take the time to investigate what would people prefer.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yes. Accessibility can mean different things for different people. There’s quite a spectrum of what is accessible for me may be different accessible for you, may be different accessible for somebody else. I think that we talked about with Salesforce Admins this idea of SABWA, which is an acronym for Salesforce Administration By Walking Around. It’s, “Hey, you got to talk to your users. See how they’re using the app. See how they’re clicking through things? How are they logging a call?” That kind of thing.

Adam Rodenbeck: Absolutely. I love that.

Gillian Bruce: Yes, we can credit Mike Gerholdt with that because he created that acronym. Every time I say it I do like a machete move like, “SABWA.” Adam, I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. It’s been so great to learn more about accessibility in general and then also your story, which is really fun. I would really get in trouble if I let you go from the podcast and don’t ask you a Lightning round question.

Adam Rodenbeck: All right.

Gillian Bruce: It’s a question that doesn’t actually have anything to do with Lightning. First thing that come to mind, there’s no right or wrong answer. Are you ready?

Adam Rodenbeck: I’m ready.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, Adam. You have been in the Salesforce ecosystem for a while. What is one of your favorite features that Salesforce has released?

Adam Rodenbeck: Chatter.

Gillian Bruce: Chatter. I love it. So, would that follow that maybe Chatter is one of your favorite mascots.

Adam Rodenbeck: Yes, I think so. That’s going way back, but yes. I remember one of my first Dreamforce’s I got my picture taken with Chatty.

Gillian Bruce: I think it was my first or second Dreamforce when Chatty was … they put all like these little Chatty windup toys on the seats in the keynote, I remember, and then Chatty was debut and we have a strong contingent of the Admin Ohana that misses Chatty and wishes Chatty was going to come back. But she’s on sabbatical. Who knows? Maybe she’ll return.

Adam Rodenbeck: I hope so.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Adam, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so excited to be connected with you, and thank you for teaching me a lot.

Adam Rodenbeck: Yes, thank you. This is amazing to be on this podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that was fun. I so enjoyed getting to know Adam a little bit more and spending time with him. I love the fact that he was willing to do a live demo with me on the podcast. So, I hope that it was fun for you as well, listeners. I’d love to get your feedback on that. I learned a ton between Sunday and Adam the last few weeks on the podcast. We also have a great blog post that just went live. Lee White who’s on the same team wrote a blog post helping us understand as Admin, some real tactical things that we can do to optimize page layouts for our blind or low vision users. Make sure you check that out. It’s on admin.salesforce.com. Just to recap some of the amazing things from our conversation with Adam.

Gillian Bruce: First of all, I love learning more about how a screen reader actually works. It’s a synthesized voice of your choice as Adam pointed out, and this Braille display, that USB powered Braille display that you can plug into your computer is really an incredible piece of technology as well. So, between those two, that’s the makeup of what a screen reader does to help those who cannot see understand what’s going on the screen. I really also enjoyed the story about how Adam said that Salesforce and Eclipse, and Force.com IDE, it’s what we used to call it, was actually, they performed impressively well when he was looking for coding environments that worked for low and blind users. So, I thought that was really interesting to know. I think it’s great to help us realize how important that is. It’s at the core of our technology.

Gillian Bruce: It was very interesting how he said to page editor of the drag and drop functionality. We actually have a few things that are drag and drop within our user experience and how that was tough for him in the beginning, but it drove him to learn Visualforce and learn a new skill and learn how to build pages, and now that we’re in Lightning things have definitely shifted but it’s a great example of how when you encounter a challenge, it pushes you to learn new things to try and overcome.

Gillian Bruce: I also really like the idea of shortcut keys, where an accessibility feature that I know many of us know and love. If you have not used shortcut keys, make sure you check them out. Again, I think it’s command/ in how you access them. If you want to test your app to see if it is accessible, some easy things that you can do, see if you can tab through. Try not using your mouse to complete a task, to log a call, to create a record, see how that goes and use arrow keys. If you can do that, that’s a good sign that you’re on the right path.

Gillian Bruce: As Adam pointed out, a lot of the Salesforce natural features are pretty accessible. So, you’re already starting from a good spot. When in doubt, talk to your users. Sunday talked a lot about this. We’ve talked a lot about this overall, as Admins, one of the most important things we can do is get to know our users. Do SABWA, Salesforce Administration By Walking Around. Go talk to your users, ask them how they use the app and what might make their lives easier and make it easier for them to use. Remember that accessibility means different things to different people. Don’t discount that.

Gillian Bruce: If you want a good reminder or you want to a fun way to demonstrate the different types of things you can do to optimize Salesforce for those who cannot see, play Adams demo. I thought that was really, really interesting about how the two different types of [inaudible 00:31:18], it’s just those simple little changes that you can do in a few minutes in the Lightning app builder can make a huge difference depending on how the user prefers to use the technology.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you so much for joining us. I’d love to hear from any of you who have your own accessibility stories when it comes to Salesforce. This is a topic that I have really enjoyed getting to know about and I am fascinated to learn more. I want to thank you all for listening to the podcast. Remember to subscribe so you get the latest and greatest delivered to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. If you want some great resources for more information on accessibility check out the show notes. I’ve got a ton in there for you. There’s groups on the Trailblazer community, there’s great resources. Some of the same ones that we referenced for Sunday’s podcasts as well. Make sure you check those out.

Gillian Bruce: As always, you can find all things awesome admin on adminsalesforce.com including that great blog post that Lee just posted about configuring Salesforce for blind and low vision users. As always, you’ll find more events, webinars and yes, even podcast there as well. You can find us on Twitter at @SalesforceAdmns, our guest today Adam is @arodenbeck, and myself @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.

 

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