Facebook: Changes, Accessibility, Service?

I posted this on Facebook today, and Vicki suggested I add it to her blog. It’s an issue I’m concerned about, especially since since online social media such as Facebook provide important ways for people affected by dementias and other diseases to connect with other persons who share similar conditions. I’ve also seen that social media can reduce feelings of isolation in people suffering from sickness or disease.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll have the old-ish Facebook layout, but I’m reading and hearing bad reactions to the new design. It feels like Facebook changes its look (and mind?) every few months. By the time we users are comfortable with a new look and navigation, it seems they come out with a new one. (And occasionally there’s something like the confusion between “News Feed” and “Live Feed” which for millions of users still isn’t really resolved.)

While it may take me a little longer to find people and apps in the days and weeks following a redesign, the sudden and frequent changes can be especially disorienting for many people who have come to rely on Facebook for contact and support while they limited in what they can do – homebound during illness, unable to respond quickly to change, etc. Online communication and community has become a life raft for millions of people, and Facebook’s practice of frequent – and poorly announced, if at all – changes is a serious issue.

I hope that Facebook’s leaders will actively and seriously review their practices in light of users who may have temporary or permanent physical or cognitive limitations, ones that enable these persons to be very alive and valuable members of society, able to make valuable contributions to the online community, but need stable, consistent, familiar physical and online environments. These people, their families and their friends would then be able to remain active members of the Facebook community.

From a public service and accessibility standpoint, implementing an option to keep using an older Facebook design would be a significant service to these people, and from a business standpoint would help advertisers trying to reach this audience, including family and other caregivers. Otherwise, much of this audience will be lost.

Jim Coyle

Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2010/02/facebook-changes-accessibility-service/

1 comment

  1. I just discovered, hidden on the left of the new search box, are hidden icons, i.e. the same colour as the banner. Until something popped up I could not see them, could not correspond, could not find notifications. If anyone had a visual impairment (God forbid they cannot read 8pt type, and don’t know how to enlarge the screen), they might never find them.

    Take them on, James! For all of us… who love you for your care of us.

    xo, V

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