Lately there has been tons of chatter everywhere about twitter. From television and radio, to magazines and newspapers, to podcasts from Freedom Scientific and Serotek. I have to admit to being reenergized about twitter after all the buzz! I had been mostly a Facebooker, kind of updating my twitter status haphazardly, but not very consistently, and my heart just wasn’t into tweeting. I did learn about hash tags and have been enjoying searching those for information and conversation.
The May 2009 edition of FsCast from Freedom Scientific delves into some great accessible options for tweeting. Some of them I have previously discussed here, namely Jawter and Accessibletwitter. I learned of a few new options as well, one called McTwit, which is an installable application that is fully keyboard accessible, and another called TWInbox (formerly known as OutTwit,) that works within Outlook. There was also some talk about the mobile twitter site, as well as slandr.net. There are so many twitter aps and tools out there that it can be overwhelming, which one do I use? What will work most efficiently for me and my needs?
I have been using Jawter for a few months now and can say that it works very well. You can find it at www.randylaptop.com. It is a little difficult to install for now, but its Author Shawn Randall says that this process may become easier in the not too distant future. I have it installed on one of my computers and like to scroll through and hear the latest updates, and it is simple to tweet from there as well. Given its name, it only works with Jaws, so if you are running another screen reader or none at all but need an accessible twitter application, Jawter will not be your solution. Jaws users should seriously consider adding it to your arsenal of little tools, just read the installation instructions thoroughly and follow them exactly.
Accessibletwitter is very nice because it works on any web browser, with all screen readers and is very keyboard accessible. One nice thing about Accessibletwitter is the keyboard shortcuts and headers. To try this one out, you won’t have to install anything, just visit the site itself at www.accessibletwitter.com. One tip that Jonathan Mosen mentioned on FsCast is to use the quick key h to get to the header and then q to get to the text of that tweet, very handy! Another nicety is that when you are typing a tweet, you are notified once you have exceeded 30 typed characters and that continues until you reach the maximum 140 allowed.
Now to explore two aps that I have not discussed here before. The first is McTwit, written by Jamal Mazrui. The application can be found at Empowermentzone.com. This site alone is full of some fantastic tools and ideas, I could dedicate an entire blog post just to the great things found here! McTwit works with most versions of windows, with any screen reader and is fully keyboard functional. I had some initial installation issues with the latest version, so I went back one build and it works just fine. It is a stand alone application, so you don’t have to go to any website, though you of course will need internet connectivity. Once you learn the key strokes you will use most, this tool is quick and easy. I could look at my followers lists of followers and easily join up to follow people I find. I can read messages and easily write and send tweets of my own. This tool will be one I use frequently on my personal traveling computer.
Finally, I tested TWInbox, which used to be called OutTwit, found at www.techhit.com. Again, this website has a lot of great information and things to try, even an outlook plug in for Facebook! The first thing I found out is that TWInbox does not work with Outlook Express, which is what I use on my traveling computer to save disk space. Therefore, I may not use this application much, since I do most of my work on that smaller computer. This tool would be great for using in your work environment with the full version of Outlook running. You can easily see all updates as they come in and reply to them, as well as compose your own tweets. Make sure your subject line is reading in its entirety, as that is where the tweet text will be. The quick start guide is a little vague, and I don’t see where I can get a list of keyboard shortcuts to search for followers and the like. Overall, I would use this at the office to keep in touch with everyone in and outside of work.
Perhaps I have given you a small taste of what is out there with regard to twitter. There is so much to help you tweet whenever and wherever you are. Definitely check out the FsCast episode, it is a worthwhile listen. Play around with things, you are sure to find what will work best for you in any situation. And, most importantly to me anyway, leave your comments, discuss your experiences with twitter and aps you use, I want to learn from you out there too!!