Earlier today, someone messaged me on Twitter asking if I knew of any free resources for helping students to practice data literacy skills, or articles about topics related to journalism and media production. I was excited to share with them that I have been using the free resources from NPR Training to help me in my Data Visualization course in college, and that it has helped me a lot with improving my writing and improving my understanding of how to turn data into a story or a cohesive final project. Here are my tips for using free NPR Training resources with visual impairment and assistive technology, and how they can be helpful.
What is NPR Training?
NPR Training is a free online program offered through National Public Radio that provides resources on topics related to journalism and public media. While the program is designed for people who have a background in journalism, other users can still benefit from the easy-to-understand articles and practical tips on how to approach writing, visuals, and tips for content creation and social media. NPR Training can be accessed in any web browser on a computer or mobile device and is updated with new articles frequently.
How to access NPR Training
Users do not need to create an account in order to access NPR Training, it’s as easy as going to the NPR Training website linked below. However, I prefer to create a shortcut on my iPad so I can more easily access the NPR Training resources, which can be done by following these instructions:
- Open the website in the Safari web browser
- Tap the Share icon (which is an arrow coming out of a box)
- Within the drop-down menu, select Add To Home Screen
- Change the title of the website if needed, then select the Add button
- Move the icon to another folder or location if needed
- NPR Training link
- How I Arrange My iPad Homescreen
- How To Create A Custom Android Home Screen For Low Vision
- Choosing Wallpapers and Backgrounds With Low Vision
Who can benefit from NPR Training?
As mentioned, the NPR Training program is designed for journalists, but the information included can benefit other types of users as well, including:
- College students studying film, audio production, marketing, communication, data science, education, and other topics
- High school students interested in journalism or working in multimedia production
- Bloggers who are looking to improve their website and social media
- Teachers looking for resources about informative writing and journalism
- Anyone who wants to learn more about media and what goes into creating engaging content
- How To Create Audio Description For YouTube With YouDescribe
- Seven Factors That Make Websites Accessible To The Visually Impaired
- How I Create Citations For Research Papers
- How I Outline Research Papers With OneNote
- School News and Low Vision
Examples of topics
There are four main topics covered in NPR Training, broken into several different subtopics. Users do not need to complete sections in any particular order and can read whatever articles interest them.
- Audio 101
- Building Community
- Making and Finding Images
- Reporting, Writing, & Voice
- Social 101
- Using Social to Find Sources
Using NPR Training with large print and screen magnification
While the default print size for NPR Training articles is fairly small, users can easily increase the font size of a page by using keyboard shortcuts such as ctrl-+ or the pinch to zoom gesture. On my iPad, I use the built-in Reader view within Safari, which allows users to increase the font size to the built-in Dynamic Text size and change the background color so it is easier to see. This can be activated by tapping the Reader icon on the left side of the website address bar.
Almost all of the images I encountered were in high resolution, so I was able to easily use a tool such as Windows Magnifier or Zoom to make them larger if needed, or I could save them to the gallery and use the pinch-to-zoom gesture there.
Alternatively, users can also get offline access to articles in large print using an app such as Pocket, which can also read articles out loud if needed without having a screen reader on.
- How To Make iPad Accessible for Low Vision
- Ten iOS Shortcuts For Vision Impairment
- Windows Magnifier and Low Vision
- Zoom Magnifier and Low Vision
- Pocket App Accessibility For Visual Impairment
- Ways To Read Webpages Without A Traditional Screen Reader
Using NPR Training with a screen reader
Users can independently navigate the NPR Training website to find an article and read the text with no issues. However, a majority of the images I encountered did not have alt text included, so screen reader users would have no idea what was in those images as there would be nothing for their screen reader to read (unless there were captions included). While users can take advantage of virtual assistance apps such as Be My Eyes, Google Lens, and Seeing AI, I hope that NPR will include alt text for all images in the future, and include content about best practices for alt text as well.
- How To Use VoiceOver For Beginners
- Be My Eyes App Review
- Google Lens Review For Low Vision
- Microsoft Seeing AI And Low Vision Review
- How To Write Alt Text and Image Descriptions for the Visually Impaired
Cool things I’ve learned
Below, I’ll be linking some of my favorite articles from NPR Training that I’ve used to help me as a data science major and blogger with creating engaging and relevant content that will stand out in a portfolio. After reading these articles, I went deeper into researching many of these topics by using resources I found on Bookshare, Skillshare, and other recommendations from professors.
- How to ‘interview’ a big pile of data
- Take our playbook: NPR’s guide to building immersive storytelling projects
- Plan your editorial project in 13 steps (and with lots of sticky notes)
- These are NPR’s photo caption guidelines
Veronica With Four Eyes
- Skillshare Accessibility For Visual Impairment
- Ten Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Bookshare
- Ten Form Emails To Send To Your Professors
- How I Use My Phone As Assistive Technology In Class
NPR Training is an awesome free resource for helping people to improve data literacy skills, as well as other in-demand skills such as photography, writing, and creating engaging content. I highly recommend exploring the NPR Training resources, as it is a great introduction to many in-demand skills for 21st-century learners.