Now You Can Listen To The Radio!

Alas, deaf people! How tragic our collective disability is! We are lacking in hearing, and because of this, the world of radio is a mysterious realm. FM 98.1 has as much meaning to us as coriander does to a person who cannot taste.

How many of you know about NPR–National Public Radio? According to my dad, it’s simply the biggest thing I’m missing out on because I’m deaf. It’s a national radio station piping out stories full of very interesting things about the world we live in. Their programs, such as “All Things Considered,” or “Talk of the Nation” are widely-known in the hearing world. People who like to learn every minute of their lives often listen to these and other NPR programs. My uncle writes occasionally for NPR.

I always told myself, if I ever woke up hearing (and you know you’ve thought about such a day, too), the first thing I’d do is listen to NPR all day long. But it’s what it is, a dream. NPR and the world of radio and podcasts remains out of my reach.

Until yesterday when my friend tells me about this website called It assigns telephone numbers to podcasts so you can just dial in and listen, instead of using the radio or iTunes.

Good for hearing people who want to listen to radio on their mobile phones. Better for deaf people who want to listen to the radio at all…because we have relay services!!

That’s right. Use your favorite VRS to dial up one of those phone numbers (I must, of course, recommend the NPR shows), sit back, and watch your VRS interpreter sign away an entire radio program. Out of courtesy, make sure to ask the interpreter in advance if he or she is fine with this assignment. You can also use internet relay services (i.e. IP-Relay) for a text transcript but be careful, they will probably get stuck on “recording, please hold.”

Have a podcast you want to listen to but not listen on Get its RSS feed and submit it through the website and you’ll get a phone number you can dial in immediately.

When I tried this for the first time, I wondered–is it okay? Can we use VRS interpreters to relay radio programs to us? All in the name of equal access, right? Radio is regulated by the FCC like relay services, so maybe it’s okay. Or it could be a function that exceeds the relay services mandate written by the FCC. Who knows. Who cares?

What are you waiting for? Go listen to the radio!

Postscript, August 2010: It has become apparent that and other similar services have been used to facilitate fraudulent activities at different VRS companies (also known as “running calls”). At this point, VRS interpreters likely will not accept these types of calls.

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