Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Play RealAudio Files with Winamp

Those who know me know that I love to stream audio from the net. I have all types of internet radio stations saved in my Winamp media player.

Winamp is software that turns your computer into an internet radio and television receiver. It plays a variety of filetypes and is the most accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired.

There are other players, each one having its own audio format. The RealPlayer is a popular choice, but screen readers often have difficulty with its menus and setup screens. Microsoft includes a media player with all versions of Windows, but it too is difficult to navigate with a screen reader and some magnification programs.

Recently, I came across some information that solves the problem of accessibility when playing RealAudio files. The solution, which sounds rather strange at first, is to remove the RealPlayer and use Winamp instead.

Click this link to download 8 megs of real media kodeks: Kodeks tell your computer how to decode audio and video filetypes so you can enjoy their content. The kodeks in this download give your computer the power to decode RealPlayer and RealAlternative files, without the need to install either of those products.

After installing the kodeks, you will need a Winamp plugin that tells Winamp that it has the ability to play these files. There are two plugins that work, you'll have to experiment a little to see which one works best for your system, either ireal16 or tara. Click this link to get either of these plugins:, they are found in the RealMedia directory.

Once you've downloaded the plugins, install one of them. Visit a site that contains RealAudio files and see if your Winamp can play them. If not, uninstall the plugin and try the other one.

I'll admit this sounds complicated, but once it works, you'll be happy you went to all the trouble.

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