The age of podcasting. But what does this mean for Deaf people?
A podcast is basically an on-demand radio and they have risen massively in popularity. People listen to them in the shower, getting ready in the morning, in the car, on the tube etc.
As a deaf individual and student, I get a little sad when I think of podcasts because I cannot listen to them, or really struggle trying to listen to them and usually end up a right frustrated grump.
But I'm not alone.
Unfortunately, my frustrations are seemingly echoed across the internet by other deaf people, asking questions such as, "This may be a shot in the dark but are there any services out there that can provide text for podcasts?" and "Will anyone help me find podcasts that provide transcripts please!".
Growing up, I never liked listening to the radio because I couldn't work out the speech. My go to were cd's with lyrics inside the little booklet for me to learn and match up with the sounds I was hearing, eventually understanding the song and its lyrics by memory.
As technology progressed, I took to the internet to Google the song lyrics and learn them. This gave me a lot more options and as a result of this, expanding my music knowledge over the years and correcting the misheard song lyrics of songs (especially Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen!). Personally, my transcripts over the last 14 years have consisted of televised subtitles (excluding the live news, that's another whole issue in itself!) and song lyrics online. I never switch the radio on out of choice.
Fast forward to today and scrolling through social media, it is fairly evident to see that podcasts are taking over the game. Big influencers and entrepreneurs such as Gary Vaynerchuck are promoting their podcasts left-right-and-centre. Many magazines and articles mention that podcasts are greatly beneficial for language and knowledge enrichment, and that "listening is knowledge".
While I do agree with this, it kind of puts us deaf people on the back burner a little. It feels as if we can't "get ahead of the game" like hearing people can and that we are missing out on things. Yes, that may come across a little dramatic, but when people online are sharing the latest podcast and raving over it, I find myself clicking on a link to check it out. 9 times out of 10 these podcasts do not have transcripts included. I take a punt at trying to understand the speech. Sometimes I get lucky. When the podcast contains perfect speech clarity, pitch, pace and no background noise, I can decipher about 6 out of 10 words and my brain automatically fills in the rest. Not too shabby.
It has taken a long time for the deaf community to get to where they are today, in regards to catching up with the rest of the world in terms of accessibility. Such as the provision of subtitles for all programs (another whole story in itself), youtube captioning services, glasses with captions for the theatre etc. It seems that podcasts are just one hurdle to overcome in a sea of accessibility issues for deaf people. Something needs to be done promptly, and I for one will be eagerly awaiting the day I can tune into my favourite podcast speaker and enjoy listening/reading to the conversation with relative ease.
What are your favourite podcasts with transcripts provided? Let me know in the comments below!