WhatsApp for the Blind: Installation, Setup and Use on Windows

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In our world, virtual communication has become an integral part of a modern man’s life, and it is important that this communication is available to all users, including the blind. One of the messengers that makes virtual communication accessible is WhatsApp. In this article, we will explain how to install, configure, and use WhatsApp on a Windows computer.

Installing WhatsApp on Windows

Installing WhatsApp is a quick and easy process that involves downloading the installation file from the official website or installing the app from the Microsoft Store. The installation steps are simple, no different from installing other applications on one’s computer, so we will not go over them.

Download the installation file from here: https://www.whatsapp.com/download/.

WhatsApp also has a web version that allows users to chat via a web browser without the need to install the app on their computers.

The web version can be accessed with the following link: https://web.whatsapp.com/

Important: Using the app or the web version of WhatsApp on your computer assumes that you already have an existing account created via the mobile version of the app.

Signing in to WhatsApp

When you first launch the app, you will be shown a welcome message. To skip it, press the “Tab” key and then activate the “Start” button.

WhatsApp supports 2 authorization methods:

  1. You can scan a QR code, which may be difficult for a blind person, as it requires the user to scan the QR code with their mobile device’s camera;
  2. Alternatively, you can enter your phone number, which may be more appropriate for the purposes of this article.

To log in with a phone number, select the “Link with phone number” option.

Both methods come with step-by-step instructions and are the same for both the app and the web version of WhatsApp. You should not run into any problems when following them.

WhatsApp Workspace

WhatsApp’s main window has an intuitive and accessible design that works well with screen readers. Let us take a look at the key elements of the messenger’s main window by pressing the “Tab” key.

“Search or New Chat” field: Immediately after launching the application, the cursor will be placed on the search field, which allows you to quickly find the desired contacts, dialogs, or groups.

“Chat List”: Next is the list of your chats, which displays all correspondence with contacts, group chats, and individual dialogs. By moving through the list with the up and down arrow keys and selecting a specific chat by pressing “Enter,” you can view your correspondence and message history, as well as additional chat options, which can be accessed by pressing the “Context Menu” key on your keyboard.

“Create New Chat” button: Used to start a chat or create a new group.

“Filter Chats” button: Allows you to quickly filter chats by various criteria, such as:

  • Unread first;
  • Contacts;
  • Non-contacts;
  • Groups;
  • Drafts, i.e. chats where you have previously started to write a message, but never sent it.

Navigation through the filter list is performed using the Up and Down arrow keys, and selection is made with the “Enter” key.

Next is the active chat area, which contains the items related to the conversation with the selected contact or group. Upon activating the selected conversation, the cursor will be automatically placed onto the “Write to Contact” field for entering a new text message. Using the “Shift + Tab” key combination, we will encounter the following elements:

“Add Attachment” button: Allows users to attach different types of attachments to their messages. When pressed, it opens a menu with the following items:

  • Photos and Videos;
  • Camera;
  • Document;
  • Contact;
  • Survey;
  • Picture.

“Add a Smiley” Button: Presents a panel with smileys, GIFs, and stickers for richer and more expressive communication.

“Message List”: Represents an area that contains a sequence of text and media messages that can sent and received in the selected dialog. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to view messages, and use the Context Menu key on your keyboard to call up additional options.

“Find in Chat” button: Allows searching the selected chat for specific words and word combinations.

Next are the “Audio Call” and “Video Call” buttons, which are responsible for making audio and video calls, respectively.

“Chat Data” button: This is a menu containing additional functions related to the currently selected chat, such as:

  • Overview;
  • Media;
  • Files;
  • Links;
  • Encryption;
  • Groups.

If we press “Tab” on the message input field, we can access the button to record a voice message.

“Record Voice Message” button: Provides an opportunity to record and send a voice message. Once activated, the recording will start and three additional buttons will appear: “Delete Voice Message” is used to cancel the recording and deletes any recorded audio, “Pause” puts the recording on hold, and the “Send Voice Message” is used to end the recording and send the resulting audio message. The cursor will be automatically placed on the first button.

Now we have only the “Navigation Panel” to consider. The navigation bar contains the following items:

  • “Chats”: Displays a list of all active chats;
  • “Calls”: Displays a comprehensive audio and video call history;
  • “Status”: Allows you to set up a photo, video, text, or GIF status for yourself that will disappear after 24 hours (Note: The maximum duration of a status video is 30 seconds);
  • “Favorite Messages”: A section that saves important messages, audio notes, photos, videos, and links, automatically forming a list of your favorite items;
  • “Archived Chats”: A selection of temporarily inactive chats that remain available for later viewing;
  • “Open Settings”: A section with various app settings, such as notifications, privacy, account, chats, and other options.

The WhatsApp workspace on Windows is an intuitive sequence of elements that provides a convenient and efficient interaction with the messenger through a screen reader.

To summarize, we can say that utilizing WhatsApp as a blind user leaves a pleasant experience, as it is well adapted to work with screen readers.

We can talk about customizing your WhatsApp experience in another article, but, as I have seen from experience, the application is very well voiced immediately upon installation. There are no unsigned buttons or other oversights. It is worthwhile to go deeper into the settings as a visually-impaired individual, except, perhaps, for the options to adjust colors and fonts. However, if you need to know how to do this, please write to us, and we will go through these settings in a separate article.

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