Wednesday, March 5, 2008

NPR On Accessibility

[Addendum: I really believe in NPR, and believe they are trying. I hope they will take this as constructive criticism and I thank them for all the good work they do.]

Here's the email I received in response to a complaint to NPR. The "thin" site is no better than using lynx or emacs to view the full NPR site. You can listen to the 24-hour NPR Program Stream in MP3 format and some pods, but everything else is WMA, Real, or Flash. The appropriate solution to "configuration issues" is to provide more alternatives, not less. I would have expected better from NPR.

Dear Joshua,

Thank you for contacting NPR, and please accept our apology for the delayed response.

We appreciate your feedback, and we're sorry the media player has not met your expectations. We made changes to our audio player in an attempt to address many of the issues that are reported to NPR by users having difficulty listening to our audio.

At this time, audio produced on from May 2005 to the present is available in the new Flash-based media player. For stories prior to May 2005, the audio is available in Real and Windows Media.

While the previous player experience was successful for many users, we also received a large number of inquiries due to the various configuration issues on individuals' computers that would prevent a standalone player from properly launching.

There are a number of possible additional listening options we can recommend:

1. The NPR 24-hour Program Stream continues to be available in multiple formats including Windows Media, Real Media, and Streaming MP3 (for WinAmp, iTunes, and other MP3-capable players). More information about this service is available at or via the schedule link near the top of the home page.

2. Another option is to access our text-only site, which is available at This site, originally designed for screen readers and mobile devices, provides streaming audio in a low-bandwidth Windows Media format. The text-only site offers access to recent programs and recent content by topic area.

3. Many NPR member stations ( provide audio on their
individual web sites. This audio is typically available in a variety of formats, including Windows Media and Real Media.

4. Additionally, many NPR programs are available for download via the NPR Podcast Directory at -- Podcasts are MP3 files that can be downloaded to your computer and played locally, avoiding the unreliability of network connections. Many podcasting applications, such as the popular iTunes software, can be configured to automatically subscribe to particular content and download it automatically so that it is available to you when you want to listen.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we continue to address this issue.


NPR Digital Media

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Date : 1/22/2008 12:31:21 PM
A lot of the NPR content requires Flash Player, with no good reason. Flash is proprietary, and does not play well in Linux or BSD. One of the
reasons I use Linux is that I am severely disabled and I can customize Linux to meet my needs. But even aside from that, I thought the P in NPR stood for "Public," and the only reason I can think of for using Flash for your content is to keep it from becoming too public. P.S. I cant listen to NPR on the radio because I am too close to UC Davis transmitter.

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