Social media has become a vital tool for billions of people for a variety of reasons, but one key demographic of internet users are benefiting from the power of connectivity in ways that previous generations never could. Some sites have already become a haven for individuals with disability issues due to the wealth of information they provide, the ability to interact with others in a non-confrontational way, and the sense of community that comes from connecting with other individuals who know the unique challenges they face.
Now, Facebook has a team at work addressing the challenges that individuals with disabilities face, allowing them to better use the platform for its original goal of connecting people around the world.
The team has already begun working on adaptations for vision impaired and blind internet users, for example, who must overcome key obstacles in order to use the site.
While tools such as Apple’s Voiceover will read content to the user when accessing the site via an iPhone or iPad, part of the fun of sites like Facebook is the visual aspect, as fellow users share personal photos, videos, and other media that have been off limits to blind members. Of course, functionality can also be limited when Facebook creates an update and Voiceover wasn’t prepared for it, so the team is working to address that type of uninterrupted compatibility as well.
The Accessibility Team, originally the brain child of a part-time Facebook staffer, is also working on features for deaf and hearing impaired users who can’t access the sound on shared videos, users who cannot use a mouse or touch-screen due to a wide variety of physical issues, and more, all with the goal of not only helping their users, but also in helping their own in-house team members understand these challenges and address them instantaneously at every turn.
While Facebook certainly isn’t the only platform addressing the different needs of a significant percentage of its users, this type of pioneering attention to those needs from a powerhouse in the industry can easily spread to other platforms.
[Image via DisabilityScoop.com]