Facebook with JAWS and MAGic

NOTE: For those of you participating in the live Webinar, the following link will open the documentation in a new browser window.

Use either of the following links to access the Facebook site.


Facebook has become one of the most popular social networking sites of all time. The site can be accessed from most any device that has a web browser and is connected to the Internet. The huge popularity of Facebook is just as strong among JAWS and MAGic users as it is among anyone else. However, many people who use assistive technology on the Web feel less confident about using Facebook because of the many accessibility challenges the site presents.

This Webinar is designed to give you a basic introduction and overview of using JAWS and MAGic to access the basic features of Facebook. The capabilities of Facebook are enormous and this Webinar will only touch the very tips of those capabilities.

It is important to understand that having a good foundation of using JAWS or MAGic on the Internet is essential when working with Facebook. If you are new to using JAWS or MAGic on the Web or are uncomfortable with basic website navigation techniques, it is recommended that you develop those skills first before delving into the Facebook site. Feel free to read through the Surf's Up web tutorial or listen to the Surf's Up Webinar on the E-Learning page to become more comfortable using the Web.

Facebook frequently changes the layout and design of its web pages. For this reason it is impossible to know how long the material in the Webinar will be accurate. If the site changes after the production of this Webinar on March 8, 2011, some of the step-by-step instructions may no longer work. However, the JAWS techniques discussed to help with Facebook navigation will continue to be relevant.

Creating a Facebook Account

The first thing to do before diving into Facebook with JAWS or MAGic is to create a Facebook account. If you already have an account, feel free to skip this section. Creating a Facebook account involves filling out some basic information about yourself and solving an audio or visual CAPTCHA challenge.

NOTE: CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. It is a method used by many websites to verify that it is a person using the site rather than a computer program. CAPTCHA's often involve looking at a picture and typing in the words or letters you visually see. Websites sometimes use an audio equivalent for people who are unable to see the picture. The audio CAPTCHA usually involves listening to a garbled audio clip and typing in the words you hear.

Perform the following steps to sign up for a Facebook account.

  1. Go to www.facebook.com and press the letter E until you fine the edit box labeled First Name.
  2. Press ENTER to turn on forms mode and type in your first name.
  3. Using the TAB key to move, fill out the remaining fields and move to the Sign Up button.
  4. Press SPACEBAR on Sign Up and your cursor will move to an edit box where you must type in the CAPTCHA answer.
  5. If you need to use the audio CAPTCHA, press UP ARROW until you reach the audio CAPTCHA link.
  6. Press ENTER to activate it and your cursor will automatically move back to the edit box.
  7. Press ENTER to turn on forms mode and follow the audio instructions.
  8. After entering the text, press TAB to move to the Sign Up button and activate it with the SPACEBAR
  9. Your account will now be created and you will be taken to a page where you can begin finding friends and entering your profile information.

Commonly Used Web Page Navigation Commands

The following is a list of some of the most commonly used JAWS web page navigation commands.

NOTE: Press the SHIFT key with any of the letters listed below to move to the previous element.

Your Home Page

When you first login to Facebook or if you activate the Home link, you will be taken to your home page. On this page you will find information like your news feed, upcoming events, requests, and ways to find new friends. The home page can be customized and contains quite a lot of information. Fortunately, the titles of the various sections of your home page are marked with headings. Press H to move to the different sections.

News Feed

One of the most popular features of the home page is the news feed which displays the latest activities from all your friends. Each entry in the news feed is a heading and you can simply press H to quickly scroll through the different items. If you find an item that interests you, press DOWN ARROW once you land on the heading and you will be able to read the entire entry as well as use the Comment or Like features of Facebook. Pressing ENTER on someone's name that appears as a link will take you to the profile page of that person.

The news feed starts with a level 2 heading and can easily be found from the headings list. Perform the following steps to quickly locate the News Feed heading.

  1. Press INSERT+F6 to activate the list of headings and press HOME to make sure you are at the top of the list.
  2. Press N until your cursor lands on the level 2 heading called News Feed.
  3. Press ENTER and you will be placed on the page at the news feed heading. You can now press H to move to the different items.

NOTE: You can also just press DOWN ARROW from with in the headings list once you find the news feed heading. Press ENTER on any of the items in the list if you want to move to that heading on the page.

NOTE: Beneath the last item in the news feed is a link called "Older posts." Activate this link to display more items in the news feed.

Using the Like or Comment Buttons

Many items in the news feed or on a profile page will have a Like button and a Comment button associated with them. Activate the Like button to place a "thumbs up" icon next to the entry. Once you activate the Like button on an entry, it will change to an Unlike button to allow you to take away the "thumbs up" icon. Scroll down beneath the Like button to see a list of other people who have "Liked" the entry.

Activating the Comment button will place your cursor on an edit box where you can type a comment related to the item. Press ENTER to turn on forms mode and type your comment. Press TAB to move to the Comment button and activate it. Your comment will now appear beneath the entry and you can scroll up in order to read it.

Accepting Friend Requests

In order to accept friend requests made by others, you must first activate the friend requests link. This link is found beneath the Home heading and will begin with the number of friend requests followed by the word "friends." For example, if you have ten friend requests, the link would appear as "10 friends."

NOTE: You cannot use the link found under the Requests heading. You must use the link found beneath the Home heading.

You can easily locate the link by pressing INSERT+F7 to activate the links list or you can press CTRL+F to activate the JAWS Find dialog box and type in the word "friends" followed by ENTER.

Once you are on the Friends page, press H until you reach the Requests heading. Scroll down and you will find the people who are requesting to be your friend. Before each name is a Confirm button and a Not Now button. You can activate the link on the person's name to view their profile page before you accept or ignore their request.

Activating the Confirm button will add the person to your friends list while activating Not Now will remove the name from your list of friend requests.

NOTE: It is important to remember that the buttons appear before the name.

Posting Your Own Status Message

Perform the following steps to post a status message for others to see.

  1. From your home page, press E until you reach the edit box labeled, "What's on your mind."
  2. Press ENTER to turn on forms mode and type your status message.
  3. Press ESCAPE once to turn forms mode off and scroll down to the Share button.
  4. Activate the Share button and your status will be posted.

NOTE: Before activating the Share button, you can use the button labeled "Everyone button menu" to display a list of groups who will be able to see your status post. The default is for everyone to be able to see status message posts. Press SPACEBAR to activate this button and use the arrow keys to navigate the menu.

Facebook Mobile

The Facebook mobile page provides a streamlined alternative to using the main Facebook site. The mobile page is primarily designed for people using mobile devices such as smart phones but it also provides a less complex interface which may benefit many JAWS or MAGic users. You can access Facebook mobile by going to m.facebook.com or by going to Facebook using a hand held device.

Facebook mobile does not have as much information on each page and does not use all of the newer Web technology that causes problems for screen reader users. This makes the pages simpler to navigate with JAWS. The only drawback to this approach is that Facebook mobile does not use many of the navigation features such as headings that regular Facebook uses.

If you prefer a less cluttered page and do not mind not having access to some of the navigation shortcuts, Facebook mobile may be the best choice for you. You may even find that using a combination of the regular Facebook pages and Facebook mobile works best for you.

Finding New Friends

Perform the following steps to find friends using Facebook mobile.

  1. From your home page, press E to move to the edit box labeled Search.
  2. Press ENTER to turn on forms mode and type the name of the person you wish to search for.
  3. Press ENTER to activate the Search button.
  4. When the new page loads, press the letter T to move to the table of results found on the page.
  5. Use the arrow keys to move through the results.

NOTE: You can activate the link on a person's name to view information about the person. Use the Add as Friend link to add the person once you find them.

Writing on a Friend's Wall

Perform the following steps to post a message on a friend's wall using Facebook mobile.

NOTE: The following steps will not work if someone doesn't allow posting to their wall.

  1. Go to the profile page of the person whose wall you want to write on.
  2. Press the letter B until you find the Post button.
  3. Press UP ARROW once to move up to the edit box just above the Post button. This is where you type your message that will be displayed on the wall.
  4. Turn on forms mode and type your message.
  5. Press TAB to move to the Post button and activate it.

Signing Out of Facebook

Signing Out of Facebook Mobile

In order to sign out of Facebook mobile, locate and activate the Logout link. You can quickly find it by activating the Links List with INSERT+F7 and pressing L for Logout.

Signing Out of Regular Facebook

In order to sign out from the regular Facebook site, you must first activate the button labeled Account Button Menu. Press B until you find it and press the SPACEBAR to activate it. You will hear the sound indicating that forms mode is on. Press ESCAPE to turn forms mode off and scroll down until you locate the Logout button. Press SPACEBAR to activate it and you will be logged out of Facebook.

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