by Caitlin McFeely
Guest Blogger, Caitlin McFeely, AFB Communications
Over the past few months, AFB's Communications Department has spread the word about AFB through the "Cause" application on the social networking site Facebook. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, the Cause application allows individuals and organizations like AFB to explain their mission, invite other "Facebookers" to join and learn more, keep indivudals up to speed on issues, and raise money. To date, AFB's cause has 334 members and has raised $35!
AFB's biggest recruiter for our Cause is Michelle Hackman, one of the teenagers who spent a week at the L'Occitane Perfume School last June. Not only has Michelle recruited 65 people to AFB's Cause, but she has recently become an advocate for an accessible Facebook. Many blind and visually impaired users of Facebook, including Michelle, have noticed some flaws with the site.
One of the biggest problems still revolves around the CAPTCHA-the visual verification tool used to keep spam out of sites that provide online services. While it was great that Facebook added e-mail and audio alternatives to the CAPTCHA, Michelle noted these options don't always work: specifically, the audio alternative is difficult to comprehend. So even with these alternatives, the CAPTCHA still prohibits her from using many of Facebook's features. Another problem we recently encountered is that the audio CAPTCHA is available only when a screen reader is detected by the program. While this is great for blind users of Facebook who are accessing the site with a screen reader, this can prohibit low vision users from accessing the audio and/or e-mail alternative.
Michelle decided to take action and bring this and other problems to the Facebook staff. Last week, Michelle and I had the pleasure of discussing the inaccessible features of the site with Jeff, a Facebook employee that works on accessibility issues. Jeff was really responsive to our concerns and promised that his team would work hard to tackle these issues. He even hopes to set up a project timeline to keep track of the concerns and progress made.
I'll keep you posted about changes that are made by Facebook to make the site usable by all. For now, we want to thank Jeff and Facebook for making accessibility a priority. As Michelle said after the meeting, "I really liked what he said about Facebook really being accessible for everyone who wants to use it, because, of course he's right, but I don't think other people are always as considerate."
Re: Thanks, Facebook!Posted by 505633 on 6/16/2011 at 11:50 AM
The "Cause" application for Facebook sounds great! It's really good to hear that blind people are able to access the website by using a screen reader. It's a shame that there seems to be some flaws with the site though.
Re: Thanks, Facebook!Posted by 510079 on 9/7/2011 at 3:54 AM
Facebook is great - I use it both personally and for my business.
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