A A A Accessibility A A A A
Monday, 03 October 2016 21:04

Facebook - Anti Social Media!

Dear Facebook

I am a 22 year old who struggles with accessibility.

I am registered deafblind, however, I was not born deafblind but deaf.  What that means, to you, is that I was brought up a very visual child and like most deaf people I could lipread, observe body language and even converse using my hands and sight.  I was not brought up using Braille, or voiceover and still today I know the most basic Braille, my choice and I still chose to use the tiny amount of vision I still retain.

For your information what I see is like looking through a straw, I'm sure you can try to imagine how challenging that is.

So when I am told and sent links by your "accessibility team" telling me to seek help in your help pages online you will understand that you have not enabled zoom so it is impossible to magnify anything so I can read it so naturally asking me to complete a form really is a thoughtless request and of as much use as a chocolate teapot!

Facebook is one of the most altered and cluttered apps and as yet I am waiting for the alteration that enables people like myself to actually access it the way others can, it just clearly isn't a priority to you.

In real terms what this means is you are knowingly isolating further an already isolated community and not just those with my condition or low vision but the elderly who want to reach out to others, to those confused by the cluttered fashion of Facebook.  I know this isn't new news to you because I have blogged about this before!

It's not asking too much for huge corporates like Facebook to consider the accessibility needs of us all and yet it continues to fall on deaf ears.

The latest in the Facebook Book of "Accessibility Howlers" was delivered to me via twitter, which seems the only way you respond to anybody accept the time I was contacted by your London offices, by email via my charity and asked to give you a free presentation on accessibility - I think on reflection maybe I should have given my time for free to help vulnerable groups but, I too have to make a living!

Facebook decided to withdraw the 'boost post' facility from my Charity Page, a page where I would regularly share information within the deafblind community, the reason why, who knows?  It asks, in the dreaded pop up box, for up to date payment details, had to have that read to me and guess what?  My payment details are all up to date.  Put in alternate payment details, won't accept those, so what is next?  Of course, ask @fbaccess and guess what, you got it, they send a "help" link I cannot access because zoom is not enabled - so what is the answer, just ignore me, so far that is the only answer, nobody has contacted me, told me why I cannot boost any posts, re-enabled the facility so that's it - Facebook cares I'm told, well, really?

Is this really satisfactory accessibility from one of the biggest in social media, it's beginning to feel very much like Anti-social media!

You know, I would far rather work with these companies and help make everything accessible for those in need but Facebook remain unapproachable and inconsiderate.

I'm not asking for for 'super amazing brilliant' I just want fair access, zoom enabled and for somebody to sort out this 'boost post' facility so I can continue with my work raising awareness of Usher Syndrome, deafblindness, accessibility, assistive technology and all the other aspects of my work.

Maybe if I put this on my Christmas list it might get resolved or maybe Christmas will never come!

 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 21:11

Why Access to Social Media Matters

I have been asked many times what my favourite social media is and why and my answer is always Twitter.

The reasons I like Twitter are firstly from an accessibility view point.  There is choice, there are several Twitter apps each offering something a little different and those little differences mean more chance of there being something that works for those of us with varying needs like blind but with low vision, hence able to access text if the right size, colour and contrast, bearing in mind biggest it not always best!

Twitter is an excellent platform for accessing and sharing information also for finding like minded people and for support.

Through blogging and networking mainly using Twitter as my favoured platform I have been able to reach out and communicate with people and companies I would never have met without accessible social media.

I have been quite overwhelmed on occasion that people from all over the world and from fields varying from technology, accessibility and healthcare have taken an interest in my work and remembered me in such a way that they post and tag me in things they feel may be useful or interesting to me and my cause which is quite incredible and I am very thankful of that consideration.

My passions continue to be to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome, it's many challenges, to recognise accessible and enabling assistive technology for those with sensory impairment and test if possible then share my findings.

Twitter is so easy to access, simple rows, easy to scroll up and down unlike my least favourite social media platform, Facebook.

I blogged a great deal about Facebook last year and I was very pleased to see the long awaited arrival of dynamic text for those of us with limited sight.  That said they still have a long way to go to make accessibility easier for people like myself, particularly on mobile devices.

Facebook is very useful for specialist support groups, bringing people together, however if those who need the support cannot access it it becomes frustrating and quite a let down to many in need.

I remember there used to be more than one app for Facebook but that no longer appears to be the case, which is very unfortunate, we are all different and all like choice.

Facebook changes / updates regularly but remains very cluttered and hard to navigate.  

It seems Facebook sees blindness as total and that voiceover is a requirement even though there are so many with low vision.

The low vision group would include the ageing. Then there are those with Usher Syndrome, deafblindness some who cannot access sound so voiceover not an option.  These people are therefore reliant on accessing visually and it is very difficult amongst the clutter.  

There needs to be options to invert / change colours at least.

If you can imagine looking through a straw and actually realising how little of a screen you would see at any one time then you can imagine the difficulty experienced on a cluttered screen, it's exhausting.

I guess frustration best describes Facebook and it's very disappointing as so many vulnerable groups rely on it to catch up with others when they cannot get out and mix easily.

Facebook make regular changes and I noticed are looking to make more improvements including describing pictures, which is great for those who need it but again won't help the deafblind.

I feel Facebook should be a friendly and easily accessible place for all to find friends or support groups, here's hoping this is coming too, until then its “Frustrating Facebook.”

I am very fortunate that I have access to quite a range of accessible assistive technology and all are mainstream products which really goes to show how far things have progressed for people with sensory impairments, however so many apps and websites have a long long way to go to allow full access to all.

 

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