Did you know September 30 is National Podcast day? Around 1 in 4 Americans listen to podcasts for a variety of reasons. From educational to just plain entertaining, podcasts are diverse and have become a pop culture phenomenon. Unfortunately, podcasts are one part of the digital media frontier that are yet to be made fully accessible for the deaf or hard of hearing. The good news is, steps are being taken so that everyone- regardless of hearing abilities- can tune in!
Since last year, many podcasts have started including transcripts. For example, NPR transcripts used to incur a small fee, but now they’re free. Many shows have transcripts available within a week of the episode airing. Others can be sent upon request. Transcripts of a podcast can be read separately from playing the audio and can be made available through a podcast webpage. They could also be provided as an HTML page or another type of document such as Word or PDF.
There’s still progress to be made with the formatting of transcripts to better depict tone, emotion, musical descriptions, who’s speaking, etc., and they still aren’t available for every podcast. But overall, podcast transcripts are a win for the hearing impaired and deaf communities.
For those who are hard of hearing and take advantage of hearing aids, podcasts are now even more more accessible due to Bluetooth technology. Wireless hearing aids make it possible to connect with personal electronic devices through accessories like the Beltone My Pal. The My Pal Delivers sound directly to Beltone hearing instruments from a streaming audio device, such as your iPhone, over a range of up to 30 feet. The Mini-Mic is an excellent companion microphone or portable streamer!
So, If you’ve been bummed out about not being able to take part in the podcast digital craze, don’t fret! Not only do you now have options, you have advocates who are continuously working to improve the podcast experience for the deaf and hard of hearing.