It is I suppose not surprising but still disappointing how frequently leading web destinations fail to pay attention to accessibility. After renewing my subscription to the NFL’s Audio Pass service to listen to NFL games I thought I’d listen to a little preseason action from the Packers yesterday. I’m sure anyone familiar with accessibility can guess the rest of the story. I’ll share the abridged version this time.
Using multiple screen readers I tried launching the audio for the game I wanted by choosing a Listen button from a page of games. That opened a new page filled with multiple nameless Flash controls. Audio did start but it was for the home team’s radio broadcast for the game in question. The lack of accessibility for this part of the NFL’s web site isn’t new, as disappointing as that is. Flash has had the potential to be accessible for years and it is unfortunate that the NFL shows such little care for fans who use screen readers that the NFL fails to take advantage of this accessibility support.
In previous years, the NFL at least had an option that indicated it was for low bandwidth users. That option allowed you to select home and away broadcasts for each game. That option is gone, with the end result being as far as I can tell that if you use a screen reader you are no longer able to select the audio feed you want.
A phone call to NFL Audio Pass support this morning confirms that the NFL is aware of the accessibility problems. I was told that a site redesign was done and that the low bandwidth option was eliminated. I asked about screen readers and was told again that the NFL was aware of the problem and that it was a top priority. I asked for a date when this issue might be corrected and the top priority line was repeated.
There’s no real ending to this story. E-mail’s been sent and I’ll do the usual round of contacting, advocating and communicating. I guess I just won’t do a lot of listening, listening that is to the broadcasts I want. We’ll see when the NFL gets around to perhaps adding back the option that allows you to select the audio feed you want in an accessible fashion or better yet making the rest of the Audio Pass experience accessible.