As Team PM convenes to plan 2020, our best year yet, we’ll be publishing special issues on accessibility in podcasting. Today we bring you an editorial, and on Monday you’ll find a collection of the best articles and resources around audiograms, transcripts, keyboard-accessible websites, screen reader compatibility, and more.
This Friday’s special edition is a brief story, a snapshot of podcast accessibility in the wild. Audio transcription has recently been emphasized for its general benefits around accessibility and SEO, but it’s essential to remember its impact on daily lives. Your editor came across this exchange last summer and thinks of it often.
This past July, William T. Gibbs, managing editor of the publication Coin World, wrote an editorial to promote the publication’s podcast. It was titled “If you’re not listening to our podcasts, you’re missing some great commentary.” A relevant detail: Mr. Gibbs happens to have hearing loss.
When a deaf reader and longtime coin collector wrote in to discuss “what he believed was a significant shortcoming” in the question, a remarkable exchange followed. The reader, Dr. Henry J. Adler, politely pointed out that “listening” to the podcasts might not be feasible for all, and asked a question of his own: “Are you willing to provide transcripts of those podcasts to coin collectors with hearing loss?”
Mr. Gibbs understood better than the reader could have imagined. He not only responded with compassion, but took action. A portion of his reflection, reproduced below, tells the rest of the story.
Dr. Adler challenged us to provide transcripts, and I asked our digital media leadership to look into this. As it happens, our podcast host offers an inexpensive transcript service, so we will start making those available immediately.
Publishing podcasts is possible because technology exists to make it happen fairly easily. It now turns out that taking the next step, making an auditory publication available to those who are hearing impaired, is also possible through current technology, at the cost of a few American Innovation dollars per episode and some additional man-hours by staff.
We have begun offering transcripts of the weekly podcasts at our website beginning with the newest one. We hope you will enjoy them.
In the grand scheme of podcasting goings-on, this was no ordinary interaction. It may have been small but its significance is major: Podcast accessibility directly benefits the lives of people that care about the same things you do. William Gibbs got it right.the conversation