Disappointing Response from Pandora

A little more than a year ago I wrote about
Pandora’s failure to understand the current state of Flash accessibility. The net impact is that you are unable to sign into the main web site to use your Pandora account. The Flash used on the web site has several other accessibility issues as well. As I wrote back then, Pandora’s main response was that Adobe needed to do more to make Flash accessible.

 

I used a recent announcement about an update to the Pandora service to revisit the state of Pandora accessibility with the folks from Pandora. While the conversation did move beyond a restatement that Adobe needed to do more, the end result seems to be that improving Pandora accessibility isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

 

I will say that if you use Pandora through the alternative of a Squeezebox, things have actually improved. The integration between Pandora and the Squeeze Center software has improved to the point that you can delete stations, add music to them and in general use your full Pandora account. Still it would be nice to see the main web site fix basic accessibility issues.

 

What follows is an exchange of comments from myself and a Pandora representative on the Pandora blog. Note that in the below I did edit to correct two typing errors in my original comments.

 

Any chance of fixing the sign in accessibility issues for people who use screen readers. I’m on my second year of subscribing to Pandora and Adobe has built an infrastructure to make Flash accessible years ago. Yet the last time I talked with your support department about this a year ago, I was told Adobe had to make Flash accessible. They did long before this so I still wonder if you are looking at this or what’s causing the delay. I shouldn’t have to get assistance just to sign in here. Other web sites have resolved this.

Posted by: Kelly Ford at May 26, 2009 04:27 PM

 

@Kelly Ford–Here’s our FAQ entry with the skinny on accessibility for visually-impaired users: http://blog.pandora.com/faq/#530. Please write support@pandora.com if you have any further questions.

-Alee

Posted by: Alee – Listener Advocate at May 28, 2009 11:49 AM

 

@Alee,

You are missing my point. I already know about the support link telling me the hints for people who are blind and have discussed this very issue with support on numerous occasions. And that support link says to sign in I need to get someone who can see to sign me in. My point is that this an endless circle. Pandora tells me Adobe needs to do more to make Flash accessible. And I’m saying Adobe has done the work and did it years ago. For some references please see http://blog.kellyford.org/archives/2008/05/trying_to_conne.html, the Adobe accessibility blog at http://blogs.adobe.com/accessibility/, and the Adobe Best practices at http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/best_practices.html.

The last time I exchanged e-mail with support on this topic I was told to go tell Adobe you needed Flash to support accessibility. And Adobe says they do support it and my use of Flash web sites that comply with Adobe’s accessibility requirements shows that it is possible to make an accessible flash site.

So I’m trying to understand what it will take to get Pandora to move forward on this. Is it a resource issue (you don’t have the funds), a knowledge issue or something missing from Flash’s accessibility support? I’d really like to not have this same discussion in 2010.

Posted by: Kelly Ford at May 28, 2009 04:57 PM

 

@Kelly Ford–Allow me to apologize. It will indeed take more than Adobe’s accessibility for Pandora to create an independently useable sign-in interface for visually impaired users. It is on our to-do list and I am very sorry to say that we have no new developments on when this will be available.

-Alee

Posted by: Alee – Listener Advocate at June 2, 2009 12:12 PM

3 thoughts on “Disappointing Response from Pandora”

  1. Kelly, while I have no visual impairments myself, I do have an interest in accessibility-related issues (which I’ll not elaborate on, here). I’m curious; 2010 has come, and here we are, one year past your latest update on Pandora… have you any further updates?
    If not, then please consider a follow-up post.
    Thank you for raising the profile of this important issue!

  2. Unfortunately as far as I know Pandora has not changed things with respect to the sign in experience. It is beyond time for another attempt.

  3. Wow! I just stumbled across this article while doing a random Google search on this very topic! I was just using Pandora earlier today and thought about the accessibility issue. As a blind computer user myself, I get extremely frustrated when certain websites do not have good accessibility implementations. Whether it’s because the designer wants flash to make their site look “spiffy” or if it’s simply that the site author (the one who writes the code) isn’t aware of the many ways to make a site accessible to those of us who use oral screen readers, or doesn’t know how to implement them, the issue remains; and ignorance is still no excuse. There are tutorials on coding that do actually tell you, if you’re interested in making a website, how to make it accessible. I’ve had experience with this because I myself have been interested in coding rather simple, mind you, sites. I learned most of it from HTMLSource, which has a section on Web accessibility, how important it is, and several ways Web authors can build totally accessible content for EVERYONE (not just blind people, but also those who may not be able to use motor skills, or even type on the keyboard), right into their sites. It is the best tutorial I’ve found, and I just stuck with it, rather than search out the whole Internet for more. In regard to Pandora, most screen readers DO NOT work well AT ALL with flash content, which means it is again very frustrating when you can’t even sign in at Pandora!! However, one very, very, very excellent screen reader out there is System Access, from Serotek. In a lot of ways, I’ve found it to be even better than the beloved JAWS, especially when it comes to flash content. I mean, what the heck is “Graphic 431” supposed to tell me? . If a blind person uses System Access, or System Access To Go, which is the Web-based version, Pandora is at least a little bit more accessible. With SA, you can sign in and switch stations; of course, there are still those dreaded limits, like you can’t pause or skip tracks, at least not that I have found. So yes, I think the folks at Pandora could do a little more in the way of accessibility. Web authors need to be more educated on this issue and ways they can improve their sites without having to get rid of good looks. Thank you.

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