Fantastic articles and blog posts go up on the AbilityNet website every week, and you undoubtedly follow news and a wide range of interests on a number of other websites. Well you can have all this digital-goodness come direct to you without visiting a single site and also be less subject to other people’s preferences or agenda.
Taking Facebook at face value
While many people already have their news served to them in their Twitter stream or Facebook feed, what you receive in these cases can often be a very skewed representation of what’s really going on.
We’ve all heard the rumours that Facebook helped Trump win the election by featuring fake news stories and we all need to be aware that getting our information through social media is subject to bias or over-emphasis on memes that could be completely untrue, but nevertheless pushed to the top due to the number of shares or likes they receive.
Anyone with an iPhone (other models are available) might be familiar with the news app that asks you to tap on topics you find interesting and serves up news items and articles it thinks you will like. This approach is based upon similar algorithms and a certain amount of human curation, and while not subject to the same social pressures that can so radically impact Twitter or Facebook, can still influence what you receive.
The really special secret of RSS
For years now it’s been possible to have content from your favourite websites sent to you automatically whenever the site is updated. RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) is nothing new and yet many people aren’t aware of it or just how useful it can be.
The process is slightly more manual to set up than just tapping areas of interest as you do in a news app, or following certain people or companies in Facebook. However, once set up, what you get is just what you’ve asked for – no more or less.
How to set up an RSS feed
The easiest way to get your news is on your mobile phone or computer via an app:
1 Download an app such as Feedly, Newsify or Feedler RSS Reader
2 Browse its categories for something of interest and click to follow/subscribe. Or search in the app for a specific website / author / subject and click to follow/subscribe.
3 Or you can copy the address of a page you love, such as http://abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs and paste it into your feeder.
Alternatively, you can go to a site you like and if they have an RSS Feed button you can click it and updates from that page which automatically be updated in your RSS Feed. On the AbilityNet website you could subscribe to every article or just subscribe to articles written by Robin Christopherson.
The app then regularly checks the websites that you have subscribed to and any new articles are downloaded for reading whenever you like, regardless of whether you're on or off-line.
Reading made easy
Within the app you can typically choose your preferred text size, style and colour to make articles clear and easy to read. And one last, huge bonus of receiving your news this way is that these apps strip out ads.
Receiving information that is clear, uncluttered and easy-to-read means that RSS is the best-kept secret which only you (and several million people with disabilities who much prefer to receive their news this way) know. Welcome to the club!
Good apps for RSS
There are many apps that can collect your favourite articles for you. I use an app called Lire on my phone which is particularly accessible with VoiceOver, but there are loads to choose from.
Other popular RSS reader apps: