Accessibility Tips to Elevate your Podcast with Poppy Field

Accessibility Tips to Elevate your Podcast with Poppy Field

Written by Miles MercerAssociate Manager, Digital Content at Acast2023.05.17

May 17th, 2023, is Global Accessibility Awareness day. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an effort to spread awareness around the world for digital accessibility efforts which allow over one billion people easier and more equitable access to technology. Within the world of podcasting, accessibility is a frequent topic of conversation as podcasting is a highly accessible medium for many people with physical, visual, or other disabilities. However, there are many things podcasters can do which can increase the accessibility of their show and help them better reach both disabled and able-bodied communities. 

Poppy Field, the creator and host of Call Me Disabled (one of the winning shows from our Acast Amplifier incubator), is an advocate for digital accessibility and is working to do away with the stigma which many disabled communities face. “With accessibility, the issue is that a lot of people who are new to it don’t realize it’s more of a journey than a destination or absolute way of doing things,” she explains. “It’s always going to evolve. It’s always going to change. There’s no right or wrong answers. I think for me, accessibility is investing in my future and also, my community and society’s future as a whole. It’s investing in a better world for all of us, not just the 25-30% of the population that is currently disabled. We are all going to experience disability in our lifetime”

In order to learn how podcasters can make their shows more accessible, we caught up with Poppy to talk through some of her top tips and insights.

Remember that accessibility can benefit everyone

The Cut Curb Effect, as Poppy reminds us, is a theory which originated with cutting curbs in certain places to make them more accessible for wheelchair users. The effect of this was a benefit for all of society as people with strollers, the elderly, as well as many others found the modification to be beneficial. “This applies to a lot of features in tech,” says Poppy. “So many people use dark mode, but they don’t realize dark mode was first implemented in a way to help low vision people, people with sensory issues, and people with migraines.” She goes on to explain that podcasters should think about accessibility features in the same way. “I use audio descriptions a lot, not because I have low vision or I’m blind, just because I’m slow at picking things up. I find sometimes I pick and choose bits from other people’s disabilities and their accommodations and make it work for me." Additionally, Poppy says that providing transcriptions can benefit many people, not just the deaf community. “I don’t always have time to listen to a two hour podcast,” she says. “But I know I can quickly look at the transcript and get a basis. Not everyone engages with the content in the same way you do, and it’s important to keep that in mind."

Hire disabled people

For podcasts with larger budgets and dedicated teams for writing, editing, and producing, hiring disabled people onto the team will help address accessibility blind spots as these issues are always top of mind for them. “People are inherently selfish, and that’s fine,” she explains. “However, when people only see things from their perspective, they are going to exclude people. And that’s not with malicious intent, it’s just that you make things in the way you want them to be seen. This is why having consultants with disabled experience coming in will give your content a more holistic approach. Having disabled people there to consult in the beginning of the process will save you money in the long run.”

Make use of accessibility tech

From transcription services to auto-caption generators, technology is making it easier and easier to make our content more accessible to disabled communities. However, using these features is oftentimes an afterthought got many pieces of highly produced content still reach the web with low accessibility. "There's so many things that you can utilize and, just because they weren't made for you, will end up benefitting you."

In conclusion, Poppy says hiring disabled people, giving visibility to disabled communities, and making content more accessible is a form of self-care. “People go on a lot about self-care – invest in yourself and everything. I do think caring about accessibility, even if it doesn't apply to you in that very moment, is the biggest form of self-care that you can do because you're caring about your future, and you're caring about your life and the possibilities it might take.”

Call Me Disabled is a part of the Acast Creator Network and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.