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Accessible Podcasts October 30, 2006

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Accessibility, Podcast Captioning, Podcast Transcription, Podcasting, University Podcasting.
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Audio and video podcasts are not accessible to deaf (audio) or blind (video) individuals. Accessibility of emerging technologies is always an issue that I try to deal with early on in the process of rolling it out. Being at a diverse university, and it is highly important that all that my team does be usable and accessible. We set up a usability testing lab last year and incorporated accessibility testing equipment/software as well. We run our web sites and applications through rigorous testing, but what to do with podcasts?

There are a couple ways to go about making your podcasts more accessible. Podcast transcription services and closed captioning services are available. Podcasting accessibility not only opens up your podcast to individuals with disabilities, it allows consumers who like to receive their information in a different media type the opportunity to do so. I’m not saying that accessibility for the disabled is not a good enough reason to do some of the things I’m going to mention, but there are many other benefits that you have to consider.

Since this issue is so large, I’m going to dedicate this week to discussing it with you. If you have any questions surrounding the accessibility of podcasts, be it this week or in the future, email them to me. I’ll try to answer all the questions that I’ve received so far, as well as give you a run down of the services out there with my recommendations. I also will focus on a day on building your own transcription studio.

I haven’t given you any tips or help today… and I can’t leave without doing so…

If you would like to make your podcasts more accessible, there are three main groups of people to consider.

  1. Seeing impaired
  2. Hearing impaired
  3. Sight and Sound impaired (combo of 1 and 2)

Solutions?

  1. Podcast Transcription. Consider transcribing your podcast and posting a link during the podcast (if video or enhanced) or in the show notes for the podcast. – see my updated transcription post
    Problem? The complaint I’ve heard is that it doesn’t help the person that wants to subscribe. In this case, the best solution is to publish a blog of the transcription/show notes that individuals who would rather read your podcast can subscribe to.
  2. Podcast Captioning. Captions on the video of your podcast are not the easiest or least expensive thing to do, but it will solve the issue. As I stated before, it’s not just for the hearing impaired. I was at the gym today and saw an individual ‘watching’ his iPod with no headphones. - see my updated captioning post
    Problem? The complaint on this one is that the words are too small to read. I’ve seen captioned podcasts and I disagree. If it is a problem, consider pausing the video and inserting a slide of text, like an old silent film. You can publish the two versions of your podcast and people can choose which they’d like to hear/read.
  3. This is hard with podcasting. Minor sight and hearing issues can be taken care of with background noise, volume control, large text captioning like you could use on my silent film idea above, etc., but unless either 1 and 2 are ultimately transcribed to braille, the media will never truly be accessible to this subset of the population.

I hope this weeks helps you in making your podcasts more accessible.

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Great information and advice. Also bear in muind that captioning and transcripts can improve search optimisation for the sites that use them

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