5 quick steps ensure everyone can tune in

Podcasts have exploded in popularity in recent years. According to Podcast Insights, there are currently 850,000 active podcasts (up from 500,000 in February 2018), and more than half of US consumers aged 12 and older tune in regularly.

However, many podcast publishers aren’t taking the simple steps to ensure their content is accessible, meaning many would-be listeners are being excluded.

This is problematic for accessibility and legal compliance. Although we don’t have formal guidelines on how the ADA mandates web accessibility, we do know that courts have overwhelmingly ruled that the ADA applies to web content.

To be inclusive and in compliance with the law, here are five simple steps we recommend to help ensure your podcast is accessible to everyone.

1. Accessible website

Creating an accessible website for your podcast is key — this will make it easy for everyone to access and engage with your content in a way that works for them.

Conforming with WCAG will ensure your website meets global accessibility standards.

2. Use an accessible media player

Of course, it’s necessary that you use an accessible media player.  Good media players will feature controls that are properly and clearly labeled for screen readers and will work using only keyboard commands.

Some of the more accessible options worthy of consideration include AblePlayer, Video.js, and QCast. (source)

3. Provide transcripts

Transcripts are another accessibility must, but it’s important to note the distinction between a transcript and a script. Your transcript should include a description of any music, sound effect, or other background noise that is relevant to what’s happening in your podcast.

Unintentional or accidental background noise doesn’t need to be included (e.g. a car horn), but any audible noises that contribute to the meaning of the episode should be included in the transcript.

If you already work from a script, it’s fairly easy to go back and update/add any necessary elements as needed.  Once ready, be sure the transcript is easily located and available alongside the episode.

Podcast platforms (e.g. Apple Podcasts / iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, etc.) allow you to include a summary for each episode.

Make sure to include a URL link to your transcript for each podcast and label it as such so that anyone can easily locate and access the transcript for each episode.

As a best practice, we recommend you don’t link out to a general transcript page (e.g., YourWebsite.com/transcripts) of all of your episodes but do link to the exact URL where people can easily access the podcast for the specific episode.

5. Accessible promotion

Promoting your podcast is an essential part of attracting and securing new listeners, so be sure your accessibility efforts carry through. Provide alt text with all social images and use accessibility-friendly hashtags.

This means capitalizing the first letter of #EachWord in your hashtag so it’s better understood by screen readers. Also, if you’re using an audio snippet to tease an upcoming episode, be sure it includes closed captioning.

These are just a few simple steps you can take to improve accessibility and ensure your content reaches a wider audience.

Ready to make your podcast’s website WCAG-conformant? We can help. Our comprehensive Accessibility-as-a-Service platform ensures you deliver web, mobile, and product experiences that are fully accessible and in compliance with the ADA, AODA, Section 508 and other global regulations. Request a complimentary demo today and learn how we can help you expand your audience.