Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Resources For Getting Started With Facebook Using JAWS Screen Reader

There are several online resources that can help you learn how to use Facebook if you are a JAWS user.

An Introduction to Facebook by JoAnn Becker

During the first 45 minutes of this Accessible World Tek Talk podcast, JoAnn Becker demonstrates how to create an account, build a personal profile, add friends, upload photos and modify settings. This is followed by a 26 minute question and answer session. Note that various aspects of the Facebook interface have changed since this podcast aired on July 20th, 2009; the most significant changes are to the privacy settings.

Facebook Accessibility With Screen Readers

This podcast appears on It features Armando Maldonado using JAWS 10, is 24 minutes long and is dated January 17, 2010. Unfortunately, Armando demoed the "Lite" version of the Facebook, optimized for users on slower or intermittent Internet connections; it offered fewer services, excluded most third-party applications and required less bandwidth. Facebook Lite was only operational for 8 months; it was discontinued on April 10, 2010 so you will now be redirected to the regular version at if you try to go to A major portion of the podcast covered the Chat feature which must have been implemented differently than the Chat that's currently available on the regular Facebook site. The Facebook Help Centre on Accessibility and Assistive Technology says, "At this time, Facebook Chat uses dynamic web content that may cause problems with some screen readers. We are working to resolve these problems. As an alternative, Facebook Chat now supports Jabber, so you can chat with your Facebook friends using your favorite desktop IM client (i.e. AIM 7.2)." Finally, Armando stated that you require assistance from a sighted person to register with Facebook due to the CAPTCHA. However, this isn't true because there is an audio CAPTCHA; to invoke it, locate the link entitled "an audio captcha".

An Introduction to Social Networking

On April 19th 2010, Anna Dresner discussed the differences between Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and when you might use each. Note that shortly after, Facebook announced that they will no longer offer a “Lite” version of their web site. This is a 53 minute Accessible World Tek Talk podcast.

Social Networking Privacy Options

This article by Marc Grossman of the American Foundation For The Blind discusses privacy settings available on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It was published in the August 2010 issue of AccessWorld but as of the time of writing this blog post, there have been some changes to Facebook including:
  • Marc says that he is unable to change his privacy settings on the mobile Facebook site but I've found that you can change most of your settings there (use the Settings link). The settings you cannot change include: Applications, Games and Websites (except Public Search), album privacy for existing photos, and Block application or events invites.
  • The easiest way to learn more about Facebook's privacy controls is to follow the link entitled Privacy located in the footer of every page on the regular/full Facebook site.
  • The content on the Privacy Settings page has changed; there are now only 4 major sections: Basic Directory Information, Sharing on Facebook, Applications and Websites, and Block Lists. Also, probably the easiest way to navigate to this page from the Home page is via the "Edit My Profile" link followed by the "privacy settings" link.
  • The privacy setting options are contained in a "button menu". You can locate these via JAWS with the Form Fields List (Insert F5). Press Spacebar to open the menu, press down/up arrow to navigate through it and press Enter to select a particular item e.g. Everyone, Friends of Friends, Friends Only or Customize. JAWS reads all of the menu items including the current setting ("checked").

Facebook tutorials for screen reader users

Stacey Bleeks wrote 4 tutorials about using Facebook with Internet Explorer on May 1st, 2010. They include: basic navigation; finding friends, sending messages, posting to your friend's wall; accessing your wall; changing your profile picture. She includes commands for JAWS. There have been some minor changes to the interface e.g. terminology, steps for uploading the profile picture.

Installing and Using AIM for Facebook Chat With JAWS Screen Reader

In this blog post, I explain how to use JAWS 11 to download and install the current version of AIM (7.4), login with your Facebook user name, and perform the basic tasks that will allow you to chat with your Facebook friends. I also summarize two podcasts that already exist about using JAWS with AIM.

jaws for windows users Facebook Group

This public group is described as "a group for all facebook users who use the screen reader Jaws For Windows." It currently has 94 members. The last item posted to the wall is dated August 10, 2010.

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