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Top 5 Ways to Make Podcasts Accessible

Oct 26, 2019

Podcasts are digital audio (and sometimes video) files available on the internet to either download onto a media listening device or stream.

They are becoming so popular that Buzzsprout, a podcast hosting site, says 64% of people know what a podcast is (up from 22% in 2006). They also stated that by 2022, there will be around 132 million people in the US listening to podcasts.

If you're a podcaster, you need to ensure that your material is readily available for all audience members. Here are five ways to make podcasts more accessible:

  1. Provide an accessible website
  2. Provide an accessible media player
  3. Provide a transcript
  4. Provide captions
  5. Offer alternative methods

1. Provide an accessible website

If your podcasts are set up on an otherwise inaccessible website, some people with disabilities may be unable or unwilling to ever find or use them, and you'd have lost a large audience while opening the door to legal risk. So, step number one is to have an accessible website.

New to accessibility? Here are some of the basics:

  • There is sufficient color contrast between text and background colors.
  • Content is usable with screen readers and other assistive technology.
  • All images have a text alternative.
  • Everything is navigable and operable by keyboard, voice control, and other methods besides a mouse.
  • There are alternatives for things like audio and video.

You can request a free graded website accessibility report to get an idea of your site's accessibility.

2. Provide an accessible media player

The media player you choose will also impact how well, if at all, some people can play your podcast.

You'll want to be sure:

  • Controls can be reached and they work with a keyboard.
  • Controls are labeled clearly and can be read by screen readers.
  • Playback options are equally available to everyone and controls are adjustable, as needed.

Recommended: Accessibility Improves Bounce Rates

3. Provide a transcript

Arguably the most important accessibility consideration for podcasts is to provide a text transcript of all the audio elements. This means more than just the spoken parts — include any background noise, sound effects, and any other relevant components that accompany the spoken word.

It's important not to rely solely on auto-generated transcripts as they tend not to be fully accurate. If you do use them, please be sure to edit them for accuracy.

One idea is to start with the podcast script, if available, and edit as needed. Many podcasters write down a show script or outline so it can provide a great starting point.

4. Provide captions (maybe)

Some podcasts do include a video element so there is some visual media to go along with the audio. If your podcast is of this variety, you'll need to provided closed captions.

Just like with transcripts, caption all of the audio elements in the video. Again, be sure the captions are free of errors and don't rely solely on auto-generating tools.

Recommended: YouTube Closed Captioning for Accessibility: Why and How

5. Offer alternative methods

Finally, you could offer alternative ways to save and play your podcasts.

You might:

  • Offer your podcast series in a zip file for people to download and play in the way that works best for them, perhaps with their preferred media player.
  • Video your podcasts as you read them, similar to how some popular radio shows might have a video version. Some people enjoy or can follow content better when they can also see it.
  • Make your podcasts available with voice controls, like Alexa.

Here to help with all your accessibility needs

Contact us to start developing an accessibility plan to best meet your needs. We look forward to helping you achieve, maintain, and prove digital compliance.

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