How to Work with Micro.blog as a Visually Impaired User

This is a quick guide for using Micro.blog as a visually impaired user in its current state. The service has some accessibility issues which the official What’s Next page lists as upcoming improvements. The web, macOS app, and iOS apps all have various accessibility shortfalls to greater or lesser degrees, with the web UI being the least problematic.

Nevertheless, I’ve found myself falling in love with this new service, and I wanted to provided a quick guide of the tools I’m using to workaround the current accessibility problems. None of these are particularly earth shattering, but I hope they’ll help prospective visually impaired users get up and running more quickly.

As a macOS/iOS user, the solutions below focus on those OSs, but you can probably easily adapt these strategies to your platforms of choice.

Reading Your Timeline

The Micro.blog web interface works reasonably well for reading your timelines, but it is a bit clunky compared to using a native app. Still, for now, this is the primary method I use for reading my timeline.

There is an alternative that I’ve tried and which you may find works better for you. Using an RSS reader, you can subscribe to an RSS feed of your timeline and/or mentions as described in this help article. I’m using FeedWrangler as my RSS manager. It can be nice to have a quick look at your timeline this way, but the inability to quickly reply or view conversations is a definite drawback. If links were available in the feed text to perform those tasks, this method might be more useful.

Posting

Update: Less than 24 hours after publishing this blog, things have changed. See below for an even better posting method.

You can post using the Micro.blog web interface, although it behaves a bit strangely on both macOS and iOS. This is the method I use when replying to other users on the system.

For a better posting experience, I’ve been using MarsEdit for macOS, which is every bit as awesome and accessible as it has ever been, and Drafts for iOS, in conjunction with its Micro.blog action and the official Micro.blog iOS app. Essentially, you can compose a post in Drafts, send it to the Micro.blog official client, and just hit the Post button to post. Although the Micro.blog iOS app does have a lot of accessibility issues, you can get signed in using VoiceOver.

Update

Just a few hours after publishing the above, Drafts 5 was released. That version of the app has a new Drafts 5 action for Micro.blog which allows you to post without need of the Micro.blog iOS app. This is much better for now, but it does require upgrading to use Drafts 5. I have left the earlier method intact in this post for existing Drafts 4 users.

Conclusion

As I continue working with Micro.blog, I expect to update this post with other solutions. The flexibility and openness of the platform is what initially sold me on it; I used my Micro.blog’s JSONFeed to show only relevant posts on my official site, while my blog shows all my posts, just as one very simple example. I also wrote a script which archives both HTML and MarkDown versions of all the posts on my own web server.

Ultimately, though, it is the awesome community that keeps me coming back.

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