Featured image for A Producer's Guide to Accessible Podcasting
06 March 2024

A Producer's Guide to Accessible Podcasting

Podcasts are a fun way to share stories, learn new things, and have a good time. But it's important to make sure everyone can enjoy them, including people who are hard of hearing. Making your podcast easy for everyone to listen to is not just a nice thing to do, it may also be legally required depending on your location. Beyond the initial step of adopting services like Dial-a-Podcast to increase access, there are numerous ways you can make your podcast better for everyone.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Talking (and Recording) Clearly is Key

The most important part of a podcast is making sure everyone can understand what you're saying. You don't need the most expensive microphone equipment like the Shure SM7B [Amazon, $400], budget-friendly alternatives such as the Logitech Snowball [Amazon, $40] or Audio-Technica ATR2500x-USB [Amazon, $67] will make a big difference compared to using just phone earbuds. Speak clearly and make sure only one person talks at a time so it's easy to follow along.

You don't need a fancy studio to record your podcast. You can make a quiet space with just a blanket over your head or recording in a closet. This helps get rid of echoes and background noise, making your podcast sound more professional.

Improving Your Podcast with Editing

Balancing the Sound

Editing your podcast can make it sound even better. Use tools like Audacity [Free] and its assortment of easy to use tools such as the Loudness Normalization effect to make sure the volume is just right (-16 LUFS, Loudness Units Full Scale, is the typically recommended value for podcasts) and to get rid of any background noise.

The Audacity Loudness Normalization effect, showing -16.0 LUFS

There are even web-based tools, such as Auphonic [Free], that will automatically fix up your audio using AI! Regardless of which tool you use, it will make your podcast easier to listen to, especially for those with hearing difficulties.

Be Careful with Background Noise

When you add music or sounds, make sure they don't get in the way of what you're saying. People who have trouble hearing find it even harder if there's a lot of extra noise.

Adding Clues to Help Understanding

You can make your podcast easier to follow by giving hints about what you're talking about. Use sounds or voices that people know, stick to topics your listeners will be generally familiar with (and if you’re talking about something new, explain it well), and let them know when you're changing to a new idea.

Going Back to Basics

Once you've mastered the sound quality and production issues, don't forget the basics of posting content on the web!

Adding a transcript of your podcast to the show notes is a simple task that can be done using basic and readily-accessible tools. Just make sure you review the auto-generated ones for accuracy.

In the end, making your podcast easy for everyone to hear and enjoy is really important. It's not just about being nice; sometimes, it's something you have to do by law. Using a good microphone and doing a bit of editing can help a lot in making your podcast sound clear and fun. Make sure everyone speaks one at a time and try to keep any extra noise down. Making a transcript of your podcast or adding captions for videos are easy ways to help more people understand and enjoy it. By doing these things, you make your podcast better and show that you care about all your listeners, making it fun for everyone to listen to.