Are Social Networking Sites Accessible to People with Vision Loss?By American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) e-News ,
Publication Date: November 2006
Article focuses on the accessibility of social networking sites for people with visual disabilities. Four popular social networking sites are evaluated by the American Foundation for the Blind in terms of their accessibility via JAWS or Window-Eyes screen readers: (1) MySpace, (2) Facebook, (3) Friendster, and (4) LinkedIn. Researchers sought to find if computer users with visual disabilities could independently register a standard profile, post photos, and interact with other site members. The most serious accessibility issue the researchers found was the inability to create a user account on MySpace, Friendster, or Facebook without assistance from a sighted user. This is mainly due to the use of CAPTCHAs, which are abstract characters that users are asked to retype when created a profile. CAPTCHAs were created to combat spam, but they cannot be decoded by screen readers. None of the sites were found to offer an audio version or an alternative means of registering for people with visual disabilities. LinkedIn is the only site that did not require a CAPTCHA in order to register. The pages on all the sites, especially MySpace and Friendster, are cluttered with advertisements, which also makes them difficult to navigate by people who use screen readers. The authors contend that until MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook offer an alternative to CAPTCHAs, people with visual disabilities will not be able to independently utilize these services.
Assistive Products Discussed: WINDOW-EYES PROFESSIONAL
JAWS FOR WINDOWS
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) (Web Site: http://www.afb.org )
Link to text: http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=57&TopicID=167&DocumentID=3153