Making Accessible Podcasts

Podcasts are increasingly utilised by academics and tutors to engage their students in both direct subject learning as well as broader areas relating to a field or discipline. As such, it’s vital to ensure that you’re presenting these materials in the best possible way for students. As podcasting is an audio medium, the success of your production relies on a sufficient level of audio quality which is beneficial to all students, but particularly for those students who may have a hearing issue, especially in relation to audio acuity (i.e. the ability to focus on or distinguish between multiple sounds presented simultaneously). Although some of the tips might seem like a departure from normal podcast approaches, remember the aim here is to create podcasts that are more accessible for students and provide better input to the range of technologies that create transcripts among other assistive technologies.
There are a number of simple and ‘common sense’ tips which you can utilise to ensure that you’re creating podcasts and audio resources for students, many of which simply utilise standard type CSU equipment.

  • Read from a script (before you record), or if the podcast is conversational (or there is more than one guest or presenter), ensure that you’re clear on the main points you want to hit throughout the piece.
  • Use a headset or desk microphone (or if using a smart phone, utilise an audio recording input device).
  • Minimise background noise – start recording when you speak, remove jewellery, avoid shuffling paper.
  • Test the volume of the microphone before recording.
  • Include visual information in the audio. Ensure all relevant audio information is included in the recording.
  • If referring to an item on a slide, say the content of the item in the recording. Instead of saying, “as you can see on this slide, the results peaked here”, say, “this analysis chart for the last year shows that it peaked in July.”
  • Repeat questions that are not picked up by the recording.
  • Prepare a transcription of the podcast (after the recording).
  • Provide a link to the transcription.
  • Consider closed captioning as well as a transcript for vodcasts. Panopto has a feature to create captioning.
  • Indicate a change in speakers.
  • Ensure there are options to start, stop, pause, or adjust the volume for action by a mouse and a keyboard.
  • For pre-existing podcasts, consider preparing transcriptions by utilising a voice recognition program (eg. Dragon Naturally Speaking or Windows or Mac Speech Recognition) to convert the audio to text. This method is effective if you are the only speaker.

Of course, some people have access to equipment well beyond the minimum- the aim here is to ensure a base level of quality for the sake of accessibility. Although there are many ways to capture audio – especially via smartphones, this guide is based primarily on the creation of audio files from CSU equipment.

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