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Accessibility and Facebook

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If you are like most people, hardly a day goes by when you don’t hear someone mention something they read or posted on Facebook. Increasingly, Facebook is the go-to way people keep friends and family updated about their lives, activities, and achievements. Did your granddaughter just graduate kindergarten? There is likely an announcement, along with photos and videos, posted on Facebook. Looking for an old high school friend you lost touch with? With hundreds of millions of registered users around the world, the chances are you can find him or her on Facebook.

There is an overwhelming amount of content on Facebook, and people are adding new posts, pictures and videos every minute. At first the sheer amount of material can seem daunting to a blind user, but the Facebook Accessibility Team has worked hard to make their web site and mobile apps accessible to all. Below, we will introduce you to some of the tips and tricks Facebook offers their sight-impaired users.

Using the Keyboard to Navigate Facebook

For computer users who do not use a mouse, including most screen reader users, the main Facebook website makes extensive use of headings, landmarks, and lists, which can be easily navigated with your screen reader quick navigation keys.

When you read a post that makes you smile, you will probably want to access the “Like” button and perhaps add a comment of your own. Facebook enables you to find these special controls and others with a single press of a key combination.

Access Keys. Access keys let you jump quickly from page to page on Facebook with a single key combination, and without having to Tab down to or search for the appropriate control. Below is a listing of the letter keys to be pressed for each special action. The modifier keys you need to press along with these keys will differ, depending on whether your browser of choice is Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.

Internet Explorer and Chrome for PC users can press the Alt + 1 to return anytime to the Facebook home page. Note: IE users will have to complete the command with a press of the Enter key.

Firefox for PC users: add Shift to the Alt +1 and other access key commands listed below. For example, Shift + Alt + 2 will jump you directly to your Facebook Timeline.

Mac users of Safari or Chrome: modify each number key command below with the Control + Option keys. For example, press Control + Option+ 3 to see your entire list of Facebook friends.

To Go Here

Press

 

 

Home

1

Timeline

2

Friends

3

Inbox

4

Notifications

5

Settings

6

Activity Log

7

About

8

Terms

9

Help

0

News Feed shortcuts. Much the same way that most screen readers offer quick navigation keyboard shortcuts (such as pressing T to move to the next table, or B to move to the next button), Facebook offers a number of shortcut commands for navigating your News Feed.

Function

Shortcut Key

Scroll forward between News Feed stories

J

Scroll backward between News Feed stories

K

See more of the selected story

Enter/Return

Post a new status

P

Like or unlike the selected story

L

Comment on the selected story

C

Share the selected story

S

Open an attachment from the selected story

O

Search

/

Search chat contacts

Q

Open a list of these keyboard shortcuts while in News Feed

?

Resolving conflicts with browser shortcuts. Unfortunately, many of these Facebook shortcut keys conflict with browser shortcut keys, so for now at least, you will have to either use your screen reader’s pass-through command, or toggle off browser navigation with NDVA + Spacebar if you are using the free NVDA screen reader, or Shift + CTRL + A for Window-Eyes.

Mac VoiceOver users do not need to change anything.

Thanks to a cooperative effort between Facebook and Freedom Scientific, the makers of the JAWS screen reader, starting with version 16, JAWS users will discover a new option in their QuickSettings dialog box: Allow Web Application Reserved Keystrokes. This new setting instructs JAWS to ignore a quick navigation hotkey if it conflicts with an interactive website’s own shortcut hotkeys. Using JAWS on most webpages, typing the letter P instructs JAWS to read the next paragraph. With Reserved Keystrokes enabled, pressing the same letter P on Facebook opens an edit box where you can post a status update. Pressing C opens a comment edit box instead of moving to the next combo box.

Facebook Messenger Shortcuts.  Facebook Messenger lets you send typed messages back and forth to logged-in friends and family.

Function

Shortcut

Search conversations

CTRL + G

Show/hide keyboard shortcuts

CTRL + Q

Archive/unarchive conversation

CTRL + Delete

Mark as spam

CTRL + J

Start a new message

CTRL + M

Go to Inbox

CTRL + I

Go to Other

CTRL + U

Using Facebook on mobile devices. These days, more and more people are enjoying Facebook on their phones and tablets. The free Facebook Android and iOS apps are quite accessible. Reading, writing, and sharing posts are all easily accomplished on a mobile device. You may even find yourself snapping a photo or two, composing humorous captions, and uploading your images for your friends to view and Like.

More Information About Facebook Accessibility

For a more thorough examination of accessibility initiatives at Facebook, check out Facebook Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments: What Facebook Wants You to Know in the April 2015 issue of AccessWorld.

You can also Like or Share the Facebook Accessibility page and the Access for People with Disabilities homepage.

Additionally, you can reach the Facebook Accessibility team via e-mail or follow them on Twitter.

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