5 Min

Advances in Podcast Accessibility

Due to its audio format, deaf and hard of hearing individuals have been excluded from podcast content. Click here to read how this is changing!

Molly Glass
Molly Glass
Advances in Podcast Accessibility

Once a hearing-centric activity, deaf and hard of hearing people are now tuning in thanks to new inclusive measures! Read on to learn more. 

What are podcasts?

Podcasts are audio content streamed for the public to listen to. Podcasts can have many purposes, from educational, and entertainment, to commentary on events. Similar to radio shows, a key difference is the listener can tune in at any time since it’s prerecorded and not live. 

Obviously, due to its audio format, deaf and hard of hearing individuals have been excluded from this type of content for some time. Recently, platforms such as Apple and Spotify have added accessibility features to their podcast content. 

Accessible Audio

There is still work to improve podcast accessibility. Historically, many deaf and hard of hearing people typically ask content creators to include transcripts of the shows for them to read. There was a post that went viral years ago of a Deaf person on Reddit sharing their feelings of being left out of this form of content. Many people replied sharing which episodes were known to include transcripts.

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Apple Podcasts

Apple released a feature in March 2024 for podcasts to have interactive transcripts. You can search for a word, and tap to play from that section. As the episode plays, each word in the transcript is highlighted so you can see it in real time the progress and follow along. 

Screenshot of an Apple podcast transcript
Screenshot of an Apple podcast transcript

If you have iOS 17.4 and beyond, this feature with transcripts is now accessible for podcasts in English, French, German, and Spanish. This feature is also available in over 170 countries and regions. 

Spotify Podcasts

Historically, podcasts on this platform were not always accessible. However, a few years ago, Spotify announced a new beta feature, auto transcription, in a move to make podcasts more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals.  The new feature will automatically generate transcripts for the shows, allowing users to read the text of the specific podcasts on their phones, either with or without sound. As of 2023, Spotify is rolling out this feature to free and premium subscribers at no additional cost to their users. 

There are also a few ways around obtaining a transcription for the content. If you tune into a Spotify podcast on your computer, Google Chrome has a live captioning feature you can turn on for any audio or video. 

To enable, open your Google Chrome browser:

  1. At the top right, select More …
  2. Scroll down and select Settings.
  3. Select Accessibility
  4. Toggle Live Caption to on
  5. Under Accessibility, you can also select Caption Preferences to adjust color, font, and size.
Image of a Spotify podcast with Google live captioning.
Image of a Spotify podcast with Google live captioning.

The next time you play an audio or video, the captioning box will automatically pop up. You can then move and position the captioning box around or double-click to expand it. 

Another method is to use a third-party website to both download the audio file and upload it elsewhere for a transcription file. Listen Notes is one website for capturing audio files. It has a search bar to find your podcast and offers the audio file in an MP3 format from the website. 

To obtain a transcription, you can then upload the file on a Notta Web App or Chrome extension to generate readable texts. The free tier provides 120 minutes at no cost each month. 

How can I create a Deaf-friendly podcast?

High-quality transcripts are essential to include with each of your episodes. A wall of text with no breaks in dialogue or images makes it less enjoyable to read. Identify your speakers in the transcription and include relevant graphics or visual content. If you need a quick turnaround for transcription, services like Rev will create transcription, or even captioning files.

Another way to improve the experience is to have high-quality audio with no background noise, steady pacing, and clear cues, such as when changing topics. For YouTube podcast creators, having captioning files on the audio is a better choice than auto-captioning. 


While there is room for improvements to be made within podcasts and accessibility, it is encouraging to see the strides some platforms, such as Apple and Spotify, have made for the deaf and hard of hearing community. With live captioning extensions and third-party apps, podcast content is now more readily available to the deaf and hard of hearing. Content creators are still encouraged to take extra steps to create an equitable experience for all their followers by including transcriptions and captions. 

Molly Glass
Molly Glass

Molly, a Deaf mom of two CODAs, lives with her hearing partner of almost 14 years in the scenic Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. Profoundly Deaf since 18 months old, she enjoys writing about the lived Deaf experiences and advocacy. In her free time she reads, and is very slowly working on authoring her first book.

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