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How important is accessibility in podcasting?

Many podcasts, podcast websites, and podcast apps still don’t offer accessibility for audience members with disabilities or impairments. Our team reviewed Reddit, Twitter, and private communities where some podcasters expressed shock at the thought of providing accessibility features for hearing-impaired audiences. Some producers admit they never even considered it! 

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports, “approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) age 18 and over report some trouble hearing.” That’s a lot of people missing out on inaccessible audio content. 

Not only are these podcasts overlooking potential audience members by neglecting accessibility for the deaf, but they also fail to consider the benefits of providing accessible content for all audiences. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 U.S. adults (61 million Americans) has a disability that impacts major life activities. That means podcasts and podcast websites need to extend accessibility to include:

  • The hearing impaired, who have tremendous difficulty hearing audio that isn’t accessible, as their hearing aids pick up every noise from their environment. 
  • The visually impaired, who can’t view an inaccessible website or find the subscribe button. 
  • Those with reading and vision disabilities that strain over inconsiderate web design.
  • Those with cognitive disabilities that benefit from sans serif fonts, color contrast, and intuitive layout. 
  • The mobility impaired, who need voice assistance optimization.
  • People whose first language is different from what the podcast is featuring.
  • Those with older devices that can’t afford newer technology.

Content creators can help fix this accessibility problem. First, take the time to make sure your audio content is accessible for the hearing impaired. Second, contact your web developer and make sure your website is accessible to those with vision, reading, and cognitive disabilities. Lastly, and the easiest to begin implementing, include an accessible transcript of the podcast. The Bureau of Internet Accessibility has even more information on how to make your podcasts accessible.

Transcripts offer podcasts and podcast websites these advantages:

  • Grow your potential audience to deaf and hearing-impaired individuals that eagerly want to participate and engage in the podcast community. 
  • Expose your content to an influential fan base that is loyal and active online, while preventing push-back about your lack of accessible content. (Members of the disabled community will let everyone in their sphere of influence know that your podcast isn’t accessible!)
  • Enhance SEO for your website. There is some debate in the podcast community whether transcripts help discoverability in search engines or not. If you have doubts, you may want to check out a case study from NPR’s This American Life, reporting significant increases in organic search traffic and engagement from their transcriptions.
  • Help non-native speakers in understanding your audio content.

There’s plenty of room for improvement on behalf of podcasters to open up their communities to the disabled and impaired. Diversity and inclusion need to move beyond race, age, and gender and start to include ability. One out of four people has difficulty hearing, seeing, reading, standing, picking something up, or can’t afford an iPhone – and all of them deserve the opportunity to interact with your content. 

If we’ve inspired you to add accessibility to your audio content and podcast’s website, but don’t know where to begin, we can help! The experts at Podcast Taxi provide help with transcription, show notes, and metadata for your websites, and our production engineers create audio content that is accessible for the hearing impaired. Start the conversation with us by taking advantage of our complimentary discovery session to see how we can support your needs.

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