More than a month has passed since MLB.com’s announcements about improved accessibility started making the accessibility circuit. I for one find the organization’s supposed claims to be improving accessibility largely empty and little progress being made.
I’ll state up front that I’ve not done any comprehensive review of the full site. Perhaps efforts are happening in areas I don’t use, but in the part of the service I use most frequently and spent money for, there’s been no change. Further, MLB seems dismally unaware that the area even has accessibility issues.
Specifically, I purchased a Gameday Audio subscription which allows one to hear the audio from home and away broadcasts for all games. MLB touts a feature called At Bat as new for this year and indicates that At Bat is supposed to include details on the speed of each pitch, live box scores and much more along with the radio broadcasts. Trying multiple combinations of web browsers and screen readers on the Windows platform, this feature still strikes me as100% inaccessible. I’ve heard things may be better on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch but have not independently confirmed this.
MLB help on accessibility makes no reference to this At Bat feature. On three separate occasions I phoned a “dedicated” accessibility help line to ask about accessibility of At Bat with the only definitive answer I ever received being no this feature wasn’t accessible and there were no plans to make it so. All three phone responses were more interested in telling me how to play audio than anything else. This despite the fact that I opened each call clearly stating I was currently listening to a game.
Assuming you have an MLB.com account with the appropriate subscription, you get to the audio with At Bat experience by going to www.mlb.com/mediacenter and launching the radio feed for a game in action.
I made my first attempt to understand the accessibility of At Bat in early April. That was the phone call that yielded the response that At Bat wasn’t accessible and that there were no plans to improve the situation. That’s strike one.
Replies from the accessibility community that I must have received some bogus info from MLB prompted a second phone call in the middle of April. That phone call ended with a promise that someone higher up in MLB accessibility would return my call with accurate info about MLB At Bat accessibility. I’m still waiting for that return call. After a month I think it is safe to ring that call up as strike two.
My third call happened on Saturday. This time I was told no fewer than three times how to launch the audio from games. Questions about At Bat were once again met with an “I don’t know.” At least there was no offer for a phone follow-up that never happened from call #2. And the accessibility ump says, “Strike three!”
We’ll give At Bat another turn at getting a hit. This time I’ve tried the “dedicated” accessibility e-mail address listed within the accessibility info on MLB.com.
Good for MLB to have started some effort. I suppose something is better than nothing. But make no mistake, this is a multibillion dollar business that has no problem telling me how much economic activity it is responsible for each time it wants a new stadium built as the public money faucet is opened. Were this a physical building, the equivalent lack of accessibility would be plain and simple a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So don’t tell me you are unable to find the relative few dollars and time it would take to fix these problems now. This is purely a lack of meaningful commitment. Talking is easy. Doing is showing real commitment.