Podcasts and Accessibility

Podcasts and Accessibility
Henry Be on Unsplash

Yesterday I had a call with a prospective client and during the course of the our conversation she mentioned how she envisioned a podcast as a way to ensure that her magazine’s content could be accessible to the visually impaired.

This immediately clicked with some thoughts I’ve been having but haven’t seen discussed much in podcasting sphere. The idea that podcasting, and audio as a medium for content, is well positioned to serve an audience that might not be able to consume much of the vast amounts of online content.

In this case it was taking essays printed in a physical magazine and having them read by the author or voice actor so that the content is accessible. This model can be extremely simple to replicate and even the largest of media publications, many of which are producing podcasts, would surely be able to do the same.

Podcasting has been consistently growing over the past few years as a medium in both the creation of new podcasts but also in the amount of individuals listening to podcast too. This proves an appetite for new shows but also that there is still an opportunity to acquire listeners.

The most obvious audio format that does cater to the visually impaired is audiobooks which are almost exclusively advertised as an experience unto themselves (which they certainly can be) but not as an accessible content form for a particular audience.

This is where I think the definition of podcasting can be expanded to include written content, both digital and physical, read in audio form. This can not only provide a potential revenue stream for publishers but also demonstrates an inclusivity to the visually impaired and enables them to engage with content that would otherwise be inaccessible.

The Guardian distributes a selection of their Long Reads articles as a podcast but this is still only a sample of the writing available from the publisher.

The Economist is the only major publisher that I can find that publishes their entire weekly magazine in audio format for subscribers to listen to.