Podcasts and accessibility: an introduction


Podcasts are a great tool for use in education. Podcasts work well for self-paced learning, for reinforcing ideas taught in the classroom, for flipped classrooms, for multilingual students, for including guest speakers and for providing enhanced teaching and learning environments.  If you are going to use a podcast as a UM resource, then you need to make your podcast accessible. Not only will this allow your content to be accessible to people with disabilities, it will also help you reach a wider audience.

How to make podcasts accessible

When creating podcasts, keep the following in mind: add transcripts of the podcasts and pick an accessible media player. WebAim’s article on Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions provides a good definition and summary of each.

Providing transcripts to your podcasts is the most important thing you can do to increase your podcast’s accessibility. A transcript should capture all the spoken audio, plus background noise that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible without hearing the audio. Many users benefit from the transcripts, not just those with a disability. 

Transcripts provide users (and creators) a way to search the podcasts for specific content.  In addition, many users might want to listen and follow along reading the transcript as a way to better learn the material.  The best way to provide a transcript is inline on the web page that the podcast is hosted on, or you can also provide downloadable or linked transcripts.

Creating transcripts

There are several options for creating transcripts:

  • Accessible Technology Services (ATS) provides captioning and transcription services for media that is used in the classroom.
  • Create transcripts yourself, ahead of time, before creating the recording. The advantages of this method are that it’s cost effective and allows for greater accuracy. Please review the DCMP guidelines in order to produce good, accessible transcripts.
  • Outsource the transcription process to a transcription service. This method is relatively affordable and fast.  REV.com and 3Play Media are two reputable vendors.
  • Zoom video-conferencing and YouTube have built-in closed-captioning and transcription features so there is no cost.  The transcripts will need corrections but it is often faster to correct existing text than to create it from scratch.
  • Another free option is the Google Docs voice typing tool.
  • Human transcription services, sometimes referred to as CART services, are also available. This is the most expensive route, but they are also the most accurate and require the least amount of effort from you. CART services are not currently provided by ATS.

Displaying transcripts

There are a few ways to display transcripts:

  • Directly on the page, right after your Podcast notes, in plain text or HTML. If you provide transcripts, always say so in the intro of your podcast episode. This allows people who access your podcast through apps rather than your site to know transcripts are available. This is, by far, the best way to provide a transcript. The information is right there for everyone to see and skim if they are looking for specific information. As it is part of your podcast’s episode page, it is also available to search engines. This will ultimately increase your reach.
  • Downloadable file or linked transcript. If you are receiving a document from a transcription service, it is easy to simply upload that document and provide a link to it. While it is easier for you, it is more difficult to get to the transcript for your audience. They have to download a document. It splits their attention between the transcript and the show’s page. Downloadable documents are also rarely fully accessible, particularly if you are providing PDF files.
  • Synchronized. Synchronized transcripts are interesting because they allow someone to both follow the audio and the text at the same time. Of course, they can also just read through the transcript and then listen to the bits they find more interesting.

UM examples of Podcasts that include transcripts

Confluence: Podcasts

ScholarWorks: On the Line Podcasts

On campus assistance

For transcription needs or questions, please complete the captioning request form.  You can also contact Accessible Technology Services at ats@umontana.edu


Source document PODCAST accessibility 2020

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Article ID: 110784
Wed 6/24/20 12:17 PM