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I used to visit the iGrill website every couple of days and stress test my product there during development.

I worked for Ai Squared on an app named Sitecues, which was a SaaS product that companies would add to their website to improve their accessibility for low vision users. We ran into a vast number of edge cases when trying to make our JavaScript library compatible with all of our customers' websites, many of whom had awful coding that we needed to handle gracefully (hacky CSS, old versions of Prototype JS that override Object.prototype, and far, far worse). One day I stumbled upon the iGrill website and found out that it exposed practically every problem that we had seen scattered across various other sites. It was so convenient that their website was so poorly coded that I could stress test our app on their site and if it worked, well, "ship it!"

Looks like their site has had a few updates since then, but those were good times.






How'd the company turned out? I'm pretty interested in accessible web dev and have toyed with the idea of working on profiling tools, or maybe something to show abled users just how shitty their site is to use with various access tools.

Ai Squared was great and that was my favorite job. The company had been around for a while, with a rich history, and they made good products. Particularly Sitecues, the division I worked in, had a good culture and product, which was designed to modernize the company. We took our time to get the implementation right and management supported us. Unfortunately, Sitecues had been burning through the rest of the company's revenue. Right as we were starting to scale and get customers left and right, some of the financial backers decided to sell to a private equity firm. A few months later, days before Christmas, they laid off everyone at Sitecues except for me and effectively shut it down. I was kept on just to keep the servers running for a few more months, probably to fulfill some contractual obligations. It was a disaster. Other parts of the company were outsourced or merged into other companies, including Freedom Scientific, which had long been "the enemy". They renamed the combined organization to VFO, and later renamed again to Vispero. Now they focus on profiting off of accessibility related lawsuits, which Sitecues had aimed to prevent. It's disgusting. I would avoid doing business with Vispero or any of their subsidiaries. The Sitecues source code is public on GitHub now, though, since someone stopped paying the bills.

There's enough accessibility guidance and testing tools in the world, especially now that Deque have added premium features to AXE. The problem is product teams/squads not actually using the guidance and tools available to create fully accessible user experiences, the root causes of which are many.

Good'ol archive.org to the rescue.



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