von Simon Engelmann

Accessible Facebook Design

Optimize font, icons, contrast and hyperlinks by creating your own CSS-Stylesheet

A stylesheet that improves readability on Facebook, so that partially sighted users can easier use it.

If you have a debility of sight or you’re just using your tablet in the sun, the gray and thin font, icons with low contrast and badly marked hyperlinks will bother you.

While more focusing on the functionality than on a nice looking design, I tried to achieve:

  • high contrast of text and icons
  • bold and large font
  • marked links

Navigation on the left before: small font, weak contrast; After: larger font in black color or in white color on red background when hovered or active

Realisation with Stylish and Firebug


This Add-On lets you change the style of a website. There exist already a lot of user-created styles (especially for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc.). If there is no preset-style you can create it on your own and share it.

For this reason Stylish works together with userstyles.org, a data base for user-created-stylesheets. Just search for a style and Install it with Stylish. Once installed you can switch it on and off and update the style. Stylish is compatible with Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari.

I couldn’t find an approbiate add-on for the Internet Explorer. It isn’t as convenient as the Add-On but you can edit the styles by using IE’s user-css-file.

For Firefox I can also recommend the add-on User Style Manager. It lets you also install styles from userstyles.org. Compared to Stylish it offers CSS auto-completion.


To identify the elements that I wanted to change, I used Firebug. It shows the HTML elements on the left and the corresponding CSS on the right. Firebug’s editor lets you change or create new CSS-rules and applies the modifications immediately to the website. So it’s easy to test different colors or font-sizes. If the element is looking fine, copy the rule to the stylesheet in Stylish.

To give all links a white font and a red background-color while hovering, the CSS rule would look like this:

  color: #ffffff !important;
  background-color: red !important;

Most of the icons on Facebook are collected on one icon-image. To change for example the message icon, I edited the icon-image put it in the public folder of my Dropbox and set the public link as the new source for the background-image of the message icon.

Navigation before: icon and background have weak contrast; After: white icon on red background

Later I noticed the icon I wanted to get (white message icon), was already on the unedited icon-image, just at another position. So it was enough to change the background-position:

#fbMessagesJewel a.jewelButton {
  background-position: 0 -253px !important;

Mobile Facebook

Facebook can be confusing. There are three columns and a lot of elements. If you aren't using Facebook every day it’s hard to keep a clear head. Especially for partially sighted users.

Therefore the mobile version of Facebook might be useful, because it uses just one column and focus on the most important functions. After some time I noticed that it isn’t easier to use. To write a comment a new site is going to open and images have a fix size and won’t scale with the window size.

Facebook’s CSS is changing

From time to time some of the id and class names of Facebook’s CSS are changing as well as icon-images. This means the user-CSS has to be updated. In most cases it’s just necessary to correct the position of an image or the name of an id. Making these changes is possible to everyone, so it should be no problem to keep it updated. Nevertheless it would be much better if Facebook itself would offer an accessible version.

Mark Zuckerberg: Worth 21 Billion $ — can't spare the cash to make Facebook accessible
Image licensed through Creative Commons by jolieodell

You can find the accessible facebook design on userstyles.org.