The Socializer (Windows only)

The socializer allows you to communicate with family members, friends, fellow-students, coworkers, and other Sero users.

You can send and receive instant messages through AOL Instant Messenger, (also referred to as AIM), Yahoo Messenger, GoogleTalk, and Jabber.

But that's not all! You can send and receive both text and voice messages to any other Sero user, subject to their approval, of course.

You can read and respond to messages in the Serotek Users Forum.

Socializer also provides simple yet powerful access to Twitter.

The socializer lets you communicate with any or all of these entities from one easy-to-use interface.

Three important hotkeys

There are three important hotkeys you should know to get the most out of the socializer.

  1. CTRL+SHIFT+M: If you hear the sound that says, “Message Holding.” This means someone has sent you a message. To instantly jump to the area where you can see and respond to the message, press Control+Shift+M.

  2. CTRL+SHIFT+A: When someone sends you a request to add them as a contact, you may do so by pressing Control+Shift+A.

  3. Grave Accent key: Finally, if someone sends you a message, or replies to your message, and you need to have the last comment repeated, simply press the Grave Accent key. On most keyboards, this is on the far left, and just below the Escape key.

Setting up your social networks

Before you can communicate with others using the Socializer, you first need to add the social networking accounts you’ll be using.

To do this:

  1. Tab to the “manage social network accounts” button from the Socializer main screen.

  2. Activate this button with the space bar to begin adding and managing your social networks. The options on this screen will change as you add your social networks, and we will discuss this screen in more depth later in the document.

  3. Begin adding social networks by tabbing to the dropdown list labeled “add an account.”

  4. Open the dropdown list with modifier+down arrow.

  5. Choose the account type you’d like to add. Note that you can use first-letter navigation, such as pressing Y to jump directly to Yahoo Instant Messenger account, from within this dropdown.

  6. Once you’ve done that, tab through the dialog, entering user name and password in the appropriate fields.

  7. Finally, tab to the “add” button and activate it to complete the process.

Socializer preferences

As you begin to use the Socializer, you may wish to make changes in how the software behaves. You can do this by editing the Socializer preferences.

To do this:

  1. Open preferences by activating the "preferences" button from the Socializer main screen, or by pressing modifier+f, followed by the letter p.

  2. Next, locate Socializer preferences by using your tab or arrow keys. Press enter on it to open the Socializer preferences window.

  3. The first checkbox in this window determines whether you are alerted when a contact signs in. If you want to hear this information, check the checkbox. Otherwise, uncheck the box. Note that you’ll still be able to tell which of your contacts is online by looking at your contacts list.

  4. The second checkbox determines whether you are alerted when a contact signs out.

  5. The next checkbox determines whether you sign in to your social network accounts automatically each time you launch Sero. If you choose to uncheck this box, just launch the Socializer and choose the “sign in” option when you’re ready to sign in.

  6. The last checkbox allows you to place the name of the person sending a tweet after the tweet itself. By default, the sender of the tweet appears before the tweeted message.

Account-specific preferences

The Socializer allows you to make changes in the behavior of each of your instant messaging accounts individually. In this way, you could for example, choose not to sign in automatically when the Socializer starts, but could change your Yahoo account to sign in even when your other accounts do not.

to change account-specific preferences:

  1. Open the "manage social networking accounts" window from the Socializer main screen.

  2. Next, choose the account you want to manage from the dropdown list.

  3. Then tab to the "modify account preferences" button.

From here, you can modify each option to suit your needs. You can choose to use the setting from your main Socializer preferences, or you can select the specific behavior you want.

For example, if you want your Yahoo account to sign in automatically but don't want any other account to do so, simply modify main Socializer preferences to not sign in automatically. Then open account-specific preferences for Yahoo Instant Messenger, tab to the dropdown for logging in automatically, and select "yes" from the dropdown list.

The Socializer main screen: accomplishing basic tasks

The main screen allows you to do the following:

First you will see a list of your contacts. When you run this program for the first time, this list will be empty until you add accounts from Messenger services such as AIM and Yahoo, or you add other Sero users.

To begin chatting, find the person with whom you wish to chat in the contacts list and press enter.

to open a chat window. Type what you want to say, and then press Enter. Or, you may tab once to the Chat button. Press this to send a message to the contact you have highlighted in your list.

For some contacts, specifically Sero contacts, you’ll see a “call” button as you tab through your options. This button appears just after the “chat” button. Activate this button to initiate a voice conversation with your contact.

Next is the “remove” button, which allows you to delete any contact with whom you no longer wish to communicate. Press Enter on this button and you will be prompted to press Alt+Y if Yes, you wish to remove this contact, or Alt+N for No, I don't want to remove the contact.

The Block button allows you to block specific people from seeing whether or not you are online, or block their ability to send you messages. The Remove Block button allows you to unblock a person so they can now see that you are online, and have the ability to send you instant messages.

The Status dropdown list allows you to choose one of five statuses to present to other users. They are:

Make your choice, tab once to the Change Status button, and press Enter.

You will be told that your status has been changed.

Press Enter again to continue. Note that this will change your status for all of the social networks you have added.

Adding contacts

The “add contact” button allows you to add a contact.

  1. Press Enter on this option,

  2. Choose the type of contact you want to add.

  3. Follow the instructions.

For example, if you choose to add a Sero contact, the Socializer will prompt you for an account number, username, or Sero email address. Also, you do not need a GoogleTalk account to add GoogleTalk contacts. Your GoogleTalk contacts will see your Sero email address.

Managing social network accounts

The “manage social networks” button opens a screen where you can add new social network accounts, and manage the ones you’ve already added.

The first thing you’ll encounter on this screen is a list of accounts you’ve already added. As you arrow through the list, the name of the social network is spoken, along with your login status on that social network.

Once you’ve chosen a social network from the list, you can tab to the status dropdown to change your status on that social network.

On the Socializer main screen, you can set your current status for all your social network accounts, but on this screen you can manage them individually.

Simply open the dropdown list and choose the status you want for the selected network.

With the “sign out” button, you can sign out of a social network entirely, while leaving the others signed in.

The “remove account” button will remove the currently selected social network account. You might want to do this if you no longer use a particular social network, or if you’ve changed the login details for that social network and want to add the account again.

Finally, the “add account” button allows you to add a new social network account. When you activate this button, you’ll next see a dropdown list to choose the type of social network account you want to add.

Note that you can use first-letter navigation, i.e. pressing the letter Y to jump to the Yahoo account, in this list. Select the desired social network, then tab to enter your user name and password in the fields provided.

When you’re ready to proceed, activate the “add” button.

The Socializer supports adding multiple accounts for each social networking service. For example, you can add a second Yahoo account if you have one for work and one for home. The first account you add will be labeled "Yahoo1", and the second account will be labeled "Yahoo2", and so on.

Using Twitter

One of the most popular social networking sites is Twitter, which allows you to share information and engage in conversation with friends, family, and businesses with a social media presence.

You can use up to 140 characters to post your own status, publicly reply to others, and send private messages, also called direct messages, which are not seen by the public.

To use Twitter, you'll need to create an account at

Once you've created your account, you must add it to the Socializer.

  1. Choose the "manage social networking accounts" from the Socializer main screen.

  2. Choose Twitter from the "add an account" dropdown list.

  3. At this point, you'll be prompted to enter your Twitter credentials in order to authorize Socializer to access your Twitter feed.

Now that you've added your account, begin using it by choosing the link corresponding to your account from the Socializer main screen.

Note that when posting tweets, mentions or direct messages, you can always determine how many characters are remaining by pressing the modifier+up arrow key combination. This will read the current line, followed by the number of characters remaining.

The home timeline

Your home timeline is the place where you'll see posts from the Twitter users you follow. The Socializer automatically places focus in this list box when you open the Twitter screen associated with your account.

This list will initially contain 20 posts, but will add posts automatically as you scroll down the list.

to send a post to Twitter:

  1. Tab through the options until you find an edit box labeled "tweet". This box also informs you of the number of characters available to you.

  2. As you begin typing your tweet, this number will decrease, and will reach 0 when you have typed 140 characters which is the maximum length allowed for a Twitter status.

  3. When you've completed your tweet, press enter to post it, or tab to the "tweet" button and activate it.

As you read your home timeline, you may find posts that you want to comment on, or links within posts that you want to open. All these things are possible with the Socializer.

To open a feed item, where you can reply to the poster, open a link in the post and so on, simply press enter on the feed item, or tab to the "open" button.

Here, you'll be able to follow or unfollow users mentioned in the post, open a link contained in a post, retweet the item so your followers can see it, and more.

If you wish to reply to the user who posted the item, just tab to the edit box labeled "reply", and begin typing your message. Note that the Socializer will include the person's user name by default, so you don't have to type @username before your reply.

Furthermore, if more than one person was mentioned in a tweet, all those user names will appear in your reply by default.

If you don't want to reply to all users, simply delete the user name and the @ sign for those you don't want to include.

You'll also be notified of how many characters are available for your reply. As you continue typing, this number decreases.

When you're done typing your reply, press enter, or tab to the "post reply" button.

Many of the options available when you open a feed item are also available just by highlighting a Twitter post in your home timeline, and pressing the tab key to review options.

These include:

Mentions, retweets, and more

In addition to viewing your home timeline, you can view posts directed to you publicly, called mentions.

You can view tweets you have previously posted that have been retweeted by others, including notifications of how many times your tweets have been retweeted.

You can also view your own timeline of sent tweets. You'll find these options by moving to the top of the Socializer main screen with control+home, and then tabbing through the options.

Direct messages

In addition to tweeting publicly, you can send and receive private messages that do not show up on anyone's public timeline. These are called direct messages.

You can engage in direct messaging in a couple of different ways.

The first is by choosing the "direct messages I've received" link from the Socializer main screen. Here you'll see a list of direct messages you've received. When focused on one of these, you'll see a button allowing you to send a direct message to the current user. You can also find this button in the tab order when viewing any other timeline, including your home or mentions timeline.

Alternatively, you can find the person you'd like to send a direct message to by using the "browse list of friends", or "browse list of followers" button from the Twitter main screen. When you've highlighted the proper recipient, tab to the "send direct message" button.

In many cases, direct messages on Twitter can become much like an instant message conversation, although there is a 140 character limit for each message.

For this reason, whenever you are signed in to your Twitter account with the Socializer, an instant message window will launch if you receive a direct message.

To respond to the conversation…

First open the conversation window with control+shift+m.

Then, from within the conversation window, you can send your direct message by typing in the edit box. You'll be alerted by a sound that you've typed too many characters, and can then erase the number of characters necessary to make your message 140 characters.

You can also use the modifier+up arrow hot key to view the number of characters you have remaining in the current message.

Twitter searches

Twitter allows you to search its content for keywords, and you can do this from the Sero Socializer.

Perhaps you'd like to follow a hashtag, or you just want to see if others are posting about a particular subject.

To search Twitter for content:

  1. Find the edit box labeled "search Twitter."

  2. Enter your keywords.

  3. Press enter.

Now you'll be presented with a list of tweets containing your keyword. You can browse this list and press escape to close the window, or you can choose to save the search by tabbing to the "save search" button from within the list.

If you save the search, you can return to it at any time for updated results by choosing the "saved searches" link from the Twitter main screen.

Displaying a user's timeline

Sometimes, you may want to view several posts by a particular Twitter user. You can do this in one of two ways.

First, you can find the user whose tweets you'd like to browse in your friends or followers list. Then, tab to the "view tweets" button to see posts from that user.

Alternatively, you can use the "look up a Twitter user by screen name" edit box and type in the user name you'd like to view. In this way, you can view tweets of users that you don't currently follow, or you can view a user's tweets easily without searching for that user in your friends or followers lists.

Twitter lists

As the list of people you follow increases, there may be times when you'd like to view tweets from only a certain segment of your friends. For example, you might have a group of people you follow who post great technology news, and you may want to catch up on that before seeing other conversations.

Twitter lists are a great way to accomplish this. You can create lists with titles that reflect the content posted by the people in that list, and then add those who fit best in that list.

You'll still be able to view your home timeline, which will include posts from all those you follow, but you can open a list to only see posts belonging to the users on that list.

Viewing lists

If you have previously created a Twitter list from the main Twitter web site or from another application, you can view that list in the Sero Socializer.

Choose the "lists" link from the Twitter main screen, and you'll be presented with a list box containing the titles of lists you've previously created.

Choose what you'd like to see from the list box, and either press enter or tab to "view tweets".

Once you're viewing the list, you can view the tweets of individual members, unfollow or block list members, or remove them from the list.

Creating a new list

You can create a Twitter list from the Sero Socializer.

This process involves a couple of steps. You'll first want to give the list a title, and then add list members from your friends or followers.

To create the list and give it a title.

  1. Choose the "lists" link from the Twitter main screen.

  2. Now, tab to the "create list" button.

  3. Enter the name of the list, a description if desired, and choose whether this list can be viewed publicly by other Twitter users.

  4. Choose the "create list" button and your list will be created.

at this time, your new list will be empty, and you'll now want to add members to it. To do this:

  1. Choose the "browse friends" or "browse followers" link from the Twitter main screen.

  2. Choose a user from the list box.

  3. Tab to "manage list memberships." Here you can check the boxes corresponding to the lists where you'd like to add the user you've selected.

  4. Then tab to the "close window" link and your changes will be saved.

The Users Forum -- the place for questions and answers

The Sero Community Users forum is where many users ask and answer questions on a variety of Serotek-related topics. You will not find a more helpful group of staff or fellow community members, eager and willing to give encouragement and assistance.

Sero Buzz -- the way to stay in touch, and on top of what's going on

At the bottom of the screen, you will find what we call Sero Buzz. This is where the Serotek team will post items of interest.

You may also have your announcements posted here for upcoming chat room discussions, cool web links, awesome and accessible software, product reviews, audio files, podcasts, and other goodies by simply e-mailing

Facebook and the Socializer

The Socializer used to provide access to Facebook, including the news feed and the ability to chat with friends. However, on April 30, 2015, Facebook introduced major restrictions to its application programming interface (API).

Serotek and other assistive technology developers were granted a temporary exemption to these restrictions by Facebook. During that time, we worked with Facebook to improve access to their Web-based applications. However, the extension to our API access ended at the end of January 2016. As a result, we can no longer provide access to Facebook within the Socializer.

If you wish to continue using Facebook, you will now find links to the and Facebook Messenger ( websites in the Socializer.

Facebook has done great work to improve the accessibility of these sites. We have also done work in System Access to make these sites more usable.

Last modified September 16, 2016

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