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Why make your podcast accessible?

Why should you make your podcast accessible? First and foremost, to make sure the shows are available for people with disabilities. This means potentially growing your audience.

Then to better expose your content to search engines, like Google. This also means potentially growing your audience.

It will also help you access your own content more easily. If you have transcripts for every show, you can search and reference what was discussed on your show at any point.

Most people and organizations want to do the right thing. And implementing accessibility is the right thing to do!

People with disabilities

The first obvious group of people who benefit from podcast accessibility is folks with hearing impairments. Whether they are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, a transcript makes a world of difference in whether or not they can consume your show. There are also people with cognitive impairments who can better process your information if they are able to read a transcript while they listen to the audio.

There are also people trying to reach your content directly on your site who need things to be accessible. For example, 8% of men are color blind. This means there’s a very good chance that many of your listeners won’t be able to access your content if you didn’t put some thinking into your color scheme. In 2011, 11% of Americans were thought to have ADHD. Chances are that many of your listeners have ADHD. If your site has a really busy layout, animations, or ads, you’re making life more difficult for your audience.

Then there are people who are keyboard-only users, whether they are sighted or not. Some people cannot, for whatever reason, use a mouse, trackpad or trackball. This means if you can’t use your keyboard to navigate your pages, and activate all controls, you exclude this part of your audience. Keyboard navigation for sighted visitors also means being able to see where the focus is. And it’s not just about people who have permanent impairments. Think of the person who broke their arm and can’t use a mouse for a while. Apart from visible focus, being able to access all parts of the site via keyboard is also mission critical for people who are blind.

Other target groups benefiting from accessibility

While implementing accessibility is primarily about providing your content for people with disabilities, there are other groups that benefit from accessibility. These include:

Non-native speakers
For example, someone for whom French is the native language may access your content more easily by reading the transcript for your English language show.
People in noisy environments
For example, someone who’s listening to your show during their break in an open plan office.
People who are fast reader
Most people will be able to read a 6,000 word transcript faster than they’ll be able to listen through a 1-hour show. If they are looking for specific information, a transcript allows them to get there faster, with less frustration.
People on low connections or poor bandwidth
We often forget that not everyone has the benefit of truly high speed internet access, or lots of data. For instance, many people within 30 minutes drive of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, can only get 5MPBS download speeds.

Indexed and searchable content for you

Having the text of every show you’ve produced means you can easily find information. Do you need to refer to the show where you spoke about beaver tails but don’t remember what episode that was? Quick search and you have it! Do you wish to write a book based on a compilation of shows? All the quotes and references are within your reach. Do you want to avoid repeating something you said?

Increase reach and exposure

This American Life, a popular radio show in the US had over 520 1-hour episode. They decided to provide transcripts for all the shows. A case study of traffic after implementing the transcripts shows that:

Significant numbers, by any metric.

Depending on where you’re based, you may face legal requirements for accessibility.