Web WhatsApp

Jan. 2018

Recent changes to the Web WhatsApp, made by WhatsApp developers  have made it more difficult for us, F123 Access developers, to make it accessible.  Due to a lack of available resources, the F123 Access team will have to stop supporting the accessibility package for Web WhatsApp. If you live in the United States and are negatively affected by the inaccessibility of the Web WhatsApp service, you might be able to help us improve this situation. Please get in touch with us if you want to help.


At this time, the Web WhatsApp page is not accessible to users of screen-readers (despite the popularity of the service among the blind). To allow screen-reader users around the world to have the convenience of their full-size computer keyboard when using WhatsApp, and to demonstrate the power of our technology, Web WhatsApp became the first publicly available site reformatted by F123 Access.

You Still Need a Smart-phone

Please note that because of the way the WhatsApp team designed the service, it is necessary that you have a smartphone with WhatsApp installed and working, preferably through a WiFi connection, so that you may use WhatsApp on your computer. The WiFi suggestion is merely in order to prevent you using up all of your cellular data plan with WhatsApp’s frequent updates, as accessing the service through your computer will still cause your phone to constantly update.

Needs Some Practice

Since Web WhatsApp requires users to sign-in by scanning a QR code with their phones, we suggest that most users ask for sighted assistance when signing-in for the first or second time. If you check the box on the WhatsApp web page where you have to scan the QR code, where it says “Keep me logged in”, you will only have to scan it once. In any case, it is usually possible to learn the right position for the phone and then scan the QR code independently.

The process is as follows:

1. Open WhatsApp on your phone and select Settings and then Web WhatsApp.

On some phones, when you are on the WhatsApp screen, you need to find the menu button and select it to get these options: New Group, New Transmission, Web WhatsApp, Status and Settings. In that case, select “Web WhatsApp”.

2. Open Web WhatsApp on your Mozilla Firefox browser after installing F123 Access.

The address for Web WhatsApp is: https://web.WhatsApp.com/

3. Then position your phone vertically in front of your computer screen with its camera facing the screen.

The touch screen will be facing you while the outside or back camera is facing the screen.

On most laptop computers the distance is more or less the same as the spacebar and the phone is held left of center. In other words, hold it vertically right above the left-most edge of the spacebar. move it left and right a bit if the login does not happen immediately.

4. You will usually hear a beep or feel a vibration when login takes place.

If you are using screen magnification, have screen brightness turned too low, or have a dialog box open on the screen, login will not happen this easily. If the above steps are not working for you, please ask someone sighted to check if your screen brightness is normal, if magnification is not active, and if there is nothing blocking the normal view on the screen, i.e. the QR code.

How to use the Web page once F123 Access has made it accessible

Once you are logged-in, you will notice that you can easily jump from one recent conversation to another using 2 and Shift+2 for level 2 headers, or just H and Shift H if you prefer. You can then choose one of those contacts or groups by pressing Enter and your screen reader focus will be placed on the edit field to write to that contact.

Buttons and links that were previously not labeled will now be labeled, and you can quickly read messages exchanged with H and Shift H. But if you just want to see the messages sent by your contact, 4 and Shift 4 will give you those, while 5 and Shift 5 will show you just your messages to that person or group.
The above F123 Access convention of using level 4 headers for text messages sent to you and level 5 headers for the messages you sent, is the same we use on Facebook chat.

Now, with F123 Access, you are ready to use Web WhatsApp!  But wait, there’s more!

Introducing Our “Premium” Script Package for Web WhatsApp

Our Regular WhatsApp Accessibility Script

Our regular Web.WhatsApp script continues to be maintained. As the WhatsApp website changes, we need to make changes to our scripts so that functionality and accessibility for you remains as good as you have come to expect from F123 Access. However, we are now launching the new, “Premium” Version of the Web WhatsApp Accessibility Package.

Our new, “Premium” Version of the WhatsApp Script

We have developed some very helpful additional features (described below), and they are in a separate “premium” package.  We are keeping these features separate for two reasons: One, they are harder to maintain, and , Two, we think that they are not essential but valuable enough that those who find them useful might help support continued maintenance work.  That is continued maintenance of both the basic, free WhatsApp Package and the premium version.

Special, Premium Features

  • Indication of sent, delivered and read messages.
  • Information on who sent the last message in a specific conversation.
  • Information on how many unread messages you have in a specific conversation.
  • Information on the message type sent on a specific conversation.
    Example: Audio, image or video. If text, it reads the notification without opening, as in WhatsApp for mobile devices.
  • Indication of status “Recording Audio” or “typing” when a person is sending a message to you, as in WhatsApp for mobile devices.
  • Choose where the focus of the screen reader should be to open a conversation: In the edit field, or at the first unread message of the conversation.

This package makes Web WhatsApp very similar to WhatsApp for mobile devices.

Free Trial before subscribing

We offer a free three-week trial of the Premium package to all users, after which either a donation of US$6 for three months use is requested. For anyone unable to pay for the subscription, our sponsor, LouderPages are offering to support individual subscriptions in return for completing some short surveys.

To request your free 3-week trial subscription, please check the request checkbox on your My Preferences page, just after the WhatsApp package combo box.

Activation mode for the Premium Package

With the F123 Access installed, open your browser.
If Mozilla Firefox, press Alt + 3 to access the F123 Access menu. If Google Chrome, press Alt + 0 to open the menu. Hereinafter, the procedure is identical for both browsers.
Press arrow down to “My Preferences” and press Enter. A tab with preferences F123 Access opens.
On this page, there are several features that you can enable to improve your Web browsing.
First, scan the titles with the letter H to:  2. Accessibility Packages Use

Search for:
7 – Web WhatsApp

Just below, there is a combo box with the following options:
– Disabled
– Basic version
– Premium Version

Choose the best option for you. Then, press the letter B until you hear:
Refresh – Recharge any open page for changes to take effect.
Press Enter.
There, the page is updated and the features enabled. In a recent update, it was left just a refresh button on the page.
Then just close the tab with Control + W, and access the Web site WhatsApp.
If the site was already open before you carry out this change, simply reload the page with F5.