Here are the notes from the GTT Toronto meeting which took place on Thursday January 21, 2016. The topic was social media.
Here are the notes from last night’s meeting.
Jason Fayre opened the meeting with a welcome, and said that next month’s meeting would have as its focus low tech kitchen gadgets presented by Donna Jodhan. He introduced Rylan Vroom, assistive technology instructor at Balance for Blind Adults, to talk about social media.
Rylan began by saying he’d be discussing Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.
There are two main ways to access Facebook on the computer. There’s Facebook mobile, and regular Facebook. Facebook mobile is good because it doesn’t show graphics, is low bandwidth, and more blind friendly. M.facebook.com. He did a demo starting at the top of the page. Near the top is an edit field to search for a person. Facebook supports hot keys. If you have new messages, you’ll see it indicated near the top. Chat is the cool section where you can chat with anyone you know who’s on line. The pages link allows you to administrate any pages you manage. He talked about how you can choose who you share your posts with, friends, friends of friends, or public. Below this is an edit field where you can enter the text of your post, photos etc.. Below this are birthday notifications of your friends. Below this are all the posts of people you follow. They are displayed as heading level 3, so you can use H to move through them. Lots of people use hashtags, which are best viewed on a Braille display. Posts will show you when a post was posted, and who it was posted to. Using H is generally a good way to navigate through the home page. At the bottom of the main page is a “see more stories” link. Entering on the profile link takes you to your profile. Using H here will display your most recent posts. On the message page, you can use B for button or E for edit field, to move through your messages.
He next went to the regular Facebook page. It allows you to access your privacy settings, which is harder to do on the mobile page. Ian raised the concern that sometimes Facebook system updates can set security settings back to default. Brian M offered the adage that if you post something you should probably be prepared for the entire world to see it. Rylan added, “If you wouldn’t send it to your grandmother, don’t post it.” Brian added that Facebook has gotten better at emailing when they change their security protocols.
Poking is a strange form of Facebook flirting. It allows a temporary exchange of profiles.
You’ll also get a list of updates from Facebook groups you’ve joined. In general, the full site has much more stuff than the mobile site. Debbie asked if uploaded photos get automatically rotated to appear correctly. Rylan answered that he didn’t know, but that he suspects Facebook will correct mistakes in uploading. He warned that if you forget your Facebook password, the process for verifying yourself involves having to identify photos of your friends, so as a blind person, this is a problem. Neila raised the idea of using the ap on a mobile device. Rylan said the down side of this is that the mobile ap often malfunctions, and that entering posts on a touch pad can be tiresome. In general though it is workable, and can do things like geotag your photos. Brian M added that the mobile ap can deal with the password problem by sending you a text for verification. Ian proposed that you can hook up a blue tooth keyboard to your mobile device to make it easier to post. Judith wondered why she gets so many emails telling her about things on Facebook. Rylan replied that it’s because she’s not logging in enough, and that there’s a link in Facebook emails to change your subscription preferences, i.e. what kinds of emails you get from Facebook. Debbie asked for clarification, with a phone, are you using the ap, or the Facebook mobile site. Rylan replied that this is a matter of preference. The ap is different in how you interact with it, and special things may need to happen if you’re using a Braille display.
Twitter is completely different, it’s a micro-blogging site. Twitter is evolving, but at its base it’s a micro-blogging platform. One of its most powerful features is the ability to index specific topics, i.e. hashtags. You can search for a hashtag and find any tweets using this hashtag, i.e. talking about the same thing. Hashtags are ever-changing and time and context related, so you have to watch what you’re doing. Under windows there are a couple of twitter clients, which are ways to use twitter. TWBlue and Chicken Nugget are two that blind people use. You can also access twitter directly from the twitter website. Night Owl is a client for Macs. Twitterific is a good ap for the iPhone. Jason said Tweetings is a useful android ap. The twitter ap for iPhone is sort of accessible, but not entirely.
He did a demo of Chicken Nugget. He did a search for the hashtag A11Y which is a short form for accessibility. This opens a buffer with a vertical list of tweets about A11Y. He showed some of the menu functions, example search, either for a person or a hashtag, updating your profile, how to manage audio that might come attached to a tweet, managing the audio cues that Chicken Nugget uses to convey information…. You can directly message someone on twitter if they’re following you. There are hot keys for most functions, and you can hide the visual window, meaning that you can operate twitter without it showing on your screen. You can directly access links included in tweets. If you choose to follow someone on twitter, this means you see everything they post publicly. There’s some twitter etiquette that they’ll follow you back, unless they’re a celebrity. He demonstrated looking up someone’s profile. This displays information about them such as a bio, and where they are in the world. Debbie asked how to shorten a URL to put into a tweet. Rylan answered that some twitter clients will do it automatically, or you can look up a good URL shortener. The @ at symbol relates to users, the # number symbol relates to hashtags. Debbie made the point that lists can be a really helpful way to categorize the information or topics you follow. She asked if you can add an account to a list without actually following it. A few people answered that you can. Neila asked if there’s any user guides. Rylan answered that each twitter client has their own. Brian commented that the twitter website is completely usable, but twitter clients are much faster, especially if you’re very active on twitter. He also added that twitter isn’t mere fluff. You can get lots of information that’s relevant to you, network, ask for tips or help with something specific, and get really quick answers. It’s an extremely useful tool. Rylan said this is true, and the trick is taking the time and effort to curate it all.
LinkedIn is more of a business networking site. You can find jobs, connect with fellow professionals, and find articles on profession related topics. It’s entirely different from Facebook, because it’s very profession oriented. He did a demo of the site. Never use LinkedIn with internet explorer, because the LinkedIn site has useful tags with key strokes and accessibility information, and older versions of IE can’t handle them. LinkedIn is good at making connections between you and people you might know. The main page looks somewhat like facebook’s, with profile and update options. Neila raised the point that you can join groups in LinkedIn, and endorse the skills of people you know. Debbie asked if the mobile site is easier, and also is there an easier way to follow conversations on LinkedIn. Brian M said he finds the iPhone ap significantly easier when following and interacting with conversations.