Today, we’re diving into podcast accessibility. But just what are we talking about when we say that you should make your podcast accessible? Podcast accessibility simply means making your podcast available, understandable, and accessible to as many people as possible.
The end goal is to make it possible for everyone who wants to engage with your content to do so, regardless of any particular limitations they may have.
But podcast accessibility is far more than understanding and creating content for your audience by understanding their limitations. Focusing on accessibility also has major benefits for you as the podcast host and for your podcast overall. The steps you take toward podcast accessibility will help you broaden your reach, build community trust, and create more opportunities for engagement with your audience. These added benefits make the effort of taking the steps toward greater podcast accessibility well worth it! In this blog post, we’ve laid out how you can easily go from novice to expert in podcast accessibility.
But first, let’s dive a little deeper…
Why is Podcast Accessibility Important?
The short and sweet answer to the above question is that making your podcast as accessible as possible is simply the right thing to do. It can also be argued that it’s the right thing to do from a legal standpoint.
For example, in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that certain types of businesses, including those providing online content, make their offerings accessible to individuals with disabilities. And in 2020, this Act was applied to the podcasting space when Gimlet Media faced a lawsuit for failing to make their podcasts accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing.
But from the perspective of your podcast, improving your podcast’s accessibility also just makes sense. Making your podcast more accessible ensures that more people can engage with your content. By making your podcast accessible, you are opening up your content to a wider audience that may otherwise be excluded. This benefits your podcast by increasing your reach and potential listenership.
By taking the steps to make your podcast more accessible, you are not only making your podcast more inclusive but also improving its searchability and discoverability for all listeners. Overall, making your podcast more accessible is about adding value to your content and ensuring that everyone can have a positive listening experience.
Now, let’s move on to the how…
How to Make Your Podcast Accessible
1. Transcript Your Episodes
One major way to make your podcast more accessible to everyone is by transcribing your episodes. A transcript is an exact written record of the audio content in your podcast. Creating transcripts of your podcast audio is a major step towards making your podcast more accessible to all types of users. And that’s because providing these written forms of your podcast episodes makes it easier for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or even second-language speakers, to enjoy your content.
By providing transcripts for your episodes, you even open up your content to consumers who prefer reading over listening in general.
But again, while we believe that working towards making your podcast more accessible is the right move as you consider the needs of your audience, there are also definite benefits to your podcast by taking these extra steps towards accessibility. Providing transcripts, for example, will also improve your podcast’s discoverability as they will enable you to include specific keywords and SEO-friendly phrases.
2. Create Podcast Show Notes
Another way to make your podcast more accessible is to provide show notes for your episodes. As a quick definition, show notes serve as summaries of the topics discussed in the episode. Show notes provide context about where to find the items or subjects discussed. You can also add any links you mention, affiliate marketing links for any sponsors, as well as links related to that episode’s guest.
And yes, show notes are a step towards greater accessibility in terms of your podcast and its potential to reach a diverse audience.
But in our humble opinion, creating show notes is an essential step of your podcast production process.
Again, because they help to improve your podcast’s SEO and discoverability. But they also just give your listeners a better experience when it comes to your podcast. It is incredibly frustrating when listeners want to quickly find something the host mentioned in the episode, only to discover there are subpar, or worse, no show notes!
Don’t be that host! Rather spend some extra time creating great show notes. Or outsource the process if you don’t have the time or capacity. Just make sure you’re making show notes available for your audience!
3. Always Deliver High-Quality, Clear Audio
We’ve covered text-based ways you can make your podcast more accessible, but did you know that your audio can also play a part? Specifically, the quality of your audio. Making sure your audio quality is high is essential for the success of any podcast, this is certainly true. In general, listeners are probably not going to stick around for too long if your audio is tinny, scratchy, or even too echoey. But striving for the highest audio quality possible takes on a different meaning when it comes to accessibility.
And that’s because clear audio is just that, it’s clear. Making it pleasant to listen to for all your listeners, but it’s particularly helpful for those who have auditory or language barriers. For these listeners, your aim is to provide audio that’s easy to listen to. It’s important that your audio is clean, and there’s not too much cross-talk or constant interruptions between participants. (Another reason why we always recommend recording on separate tracks!) And that any music or sound effects add to the content, and don’t detract from it.
Always paying attention to your audio levels and audio quality during recording and then focusing on crisp, clear in post-production will not only serve the overall success of your podcast, but this will also ensure that you’re considerately serving all members of your audience.
4. Add A Visual Component
So text-based accessibility-focused improvements? Check! High-quality, clear audio? Check! You’re well on your way to making your podcast more accessible to more people. But there is another way you could improve the accessibility of your podcast. And that is by adding a visual component to your podcast content.
Adding a visual component to your podcast can improve its accessibility in several ways. First and foremost, it makes your content more inclusive and user-friendly by allowing people who may have hearing difficulties, language barriers, or other auditory barriers to engage with your content through the addition of content that can be engaged with through another ‘sense’.
Those who have auditory barriers or second-language speakers often rely on visual clues to help them gain meaning. So being able to see your face, read your lips, or even read your expressions can be of great benefit and will certainly help in making your content more accessible to more people.
And secondly, from a podcast success point of view, adding a visual component to your podcast can also enhance engagement and strengthen your connection with all your followers.
Video can also help make your content more shareable on social media platforms. And so can be a great way to grow your brand and expand your show’s reach.
Related read: How To Grow Your Podcast Via YouTube
Some pointers for adding video elements…
Adding video to your podcast offering does not mean you now have to launch a video podcast! There are many short-form video options available that you can try. These include things like videograms, Reels, or YouTube Shorts are short-form videos. And they don’t require the skill and technicality of a full-blown video episode. But they will still allow you to improve your show’s accessibility, and allow you to reap the benefits of video content.
5. Caption Any Video Elements
And our final strategy for making your podcast more accessible follows on from the above.
Adding a visual component to your podcast will certainly help make your show more accessible. But there is an additional step that you should take if you include any video elements in your content. Captioning the video.
By including captions or subtitles on any video clips in your podcast, you, again, are being inclusive of all types of consumers. It’s really just bringing our discussion on accessibility full circle. As you will now offer content with visual, auditory, and text-based options for consumption. But closed captions on all your video elements are also just a good way to offer your audience more. As they can then still engage with your content, no matter where they are.
Thankfully, many of the software you’d use to create your video elements offer the option of adding closed captions or subtitles. Often using technology to write these for you! So make use of this, no matter what type of video content you’re creating and sharing.
Creating accessible content is the right and necessary thing to do. Yes, it takes a little bit of extra work and forethought. But all of these additions pay off in the long term. By following the above-listed tips, you can make your podcast accessible to a much wider, more diverse, audience. This not only opens up the podcasting sphere as a more inclusive medium, but from a successful podcast perspective, these steps will also help your content reach a larger audience. With these tools, you can break down barriers and provide an environment of inclusivity for all types of consumers. And you’ll also take great steps toward strengthening your podcast’s authority and discoverability. A definite win for all!