Audio accessibility: How do I make podcasts accessible?

This page provides a brief overview of what you need to do to make podcasts (or other audio) accessible and describes requirements. Review the Style guide for transcripts and captions for guidance about formatting and How to build a transcript for help using the tools.

What is an accessible podcast?

An accessible podcast is usable by people of all abilities, using a variety of devices.

Accessible podcasts must:

  • Have a transcript.
  • Have the transcript available in the same location as the podcast.

Accessible podcasts should:

Have synchronized closed captioning, especially for podcasts that are presented visually in a media player.

What makes a good transcript?

Good transcripts need to:

  • Be accurate. Written transcripts need to accurately reflect the audio content.
  • Include punctuation and capitalization. Make sure that your transcripts are
  • Use both upper case and lower case text. Only use all caps to represent yelling.
  • Identify speakers. This is crucial if there are more than one speaker.
  • Include relevant background sounds. This can include things like music, laughing, clapping, or loud sounds.
  • Be presented in an accessible format. Refer to document accessibility guidance if your transcripts are documents, like PDFs or Word documents.
  • Be free of timestamps. If transcripts are created from caption files, they often import the timestamps.

What are the audio deadlines and responsibilities?

All podcasts must have accurate, accompanying transcripts regardless of the date posted or the number of times the content has been accessed. 

Published date Transcript responsibility Compliance deadline
On or after December 2, 2022 Content owner September 2, 2023
Before December 2, 2022 Content owner December 2, 2025

What are some examples of good transcripts?

Frequently asked questions

Who uses transcripts?

Transcripts are crucial for people who are Deaf/Blind. In the absence of captions, the following users may also rely on transcripts:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of hearing
  • Have auditory processing disorders

Transcripts are also useful for:

  • People who want to skim the content quickly
  • Visual learners
  • Users who want to improve retention of information
  • Search engines

What’s the difference between captions and transcripts?

  • Captions are displayed on screen in short snippets and synchronized with the audio. Captions are typically associated with video content.
  • Transcripts are the text output of an entire audio recording. Often, they’re provided on the same web page as the media player that contains the audio (or video) file. It may also be provided as a separate document. Transcripts are typically associated with podcast and video content.

Is it better to create my own transcripts or have them professionally done?

You can get great results either way.

The benefit of professional transcripts is that you’ll get a good quality transcript quickly and it won’t take a lot of your time. The drawback is that there is a cost.

The benefit of DIY transcripts is that they’re low cost or no cost. But they will require much more time. To some degree, there is an art to transcription and there are best practices to learn when you’re starting out. You’ll also need to learn to use the tools.

More resources:

W3C: Making audio and video accessible
W3C: Transcribing audio to text

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