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Coming back to Facebook

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Guest contributor and screen reader user Andrew Devenish-Meares shares his experience of giving Facebook another go.

Quite some time ago I just gave up on Facebook.  Being blind it was just too hard to deal with, navigation was awful, there were parts of the iPhone app I just couldn't use.  I deleted my account and left.

Since that time, Facebook has been working on accessibility.  The nightmarish navigation shown in the Access iQ video is gone, and the iOS app has undergone some major changes.

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Facebook accessibility: a year of progress

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It has been one year since Facebook, the most widely used social media network in the world, introduced a dedicated Accessibility Team as part of its User Interface Engineering group. During this time, a number of accessibility updates were made to its mobile website, desktop website and its apps for Apple and Android devices. These accessibility updates were designed to improve how people with disabilities, particularly screen reader users, access the social network.

While there have been many accessibility updates introduced by the Accessibility Team, there are three main areas that have been improved. These include the structure of information for photos, navigation and colour contrast.

To mark one year since the team was announced, Media Access Australia looks at how some accessibility updates have improved these areas. Screen reader testing was performed using the Facebook app for iPhone and mobile website with VoiceOver, and the standard Facebook website using NVDA.

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Facebook Home inaccessible on Android

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Android users who rely on assistive technology might have to wait a little longer until Facebook Home becomes accessible. Facebook Home, a new interface for the popular social networking website, has been released in the USA on the HTC First smartphone. However, an HTC resource suggests Facebook Home is inaccessible.

The HTC First Accessibility Guide (PDF, 129KB) was recently published on the HTC website to coincide with the release of the smartphone. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to enable accessibility features. The accessibility features includes Android's screen reader, TalkBack, and Explore by Touch. Both of these provide audible feedback for items on the screen. These features help people who are blind or vision impaired navigate Android-run devices through audible feedback.

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Top 12 of 2012 #2 – access to social media

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As social media continues to dominate what people do online, a new digital divide is opening up between those who use social media and those excluded from them by their inaccessibility. To help remedy this, we published sociABILITY: Social media for people with a disability in March.

Funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network grants scheme, the resource explains the current state of social media accessibility and guides users through getting started on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Skype and blogging.

Media Access Australia researcher Dr Scott Hollier conducted an eight-month qualitative study among people with a sensory and mobility impairment. Through this research, social media users with disabilities were able to share their tips and tricks so that others can gain access.


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