Character listening to podcast with an audio transcript
Image description: A pink cartoon character wearing green headphones looks at a caption in the lower right (which is transcribing the purple audio waves in the background). The transcript says, "Good morning! Today, we're talking about what it means to be a pink nugget in this day and age."

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Why This is Important

Audio transcripts are primarily for Deaf and hard of hearing people to access audio in a written format.

Audio transcripts are essential for providing equal access to Deaf/HoH people, especially if the content is an audio-only experience, such as podcasts. They also provide important access for other situations (such as very noisy or quiet environments) and other people (such as more visual people, people with cognitive disabilities, etc).

This references WCAG criteria 1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded) (Level A) and 1.2.9 Audio-only (Live) (Level AAA).

How to Implement This

Transcribe the audio

Use an automated tool to jumpstart the transcribing process. Then, manually listen and refine the transcript

Free or low-cost transcription tools

Paid or higher-cost transcription tools

Note: AI-powered, automated transcription tools are often based on racist and white supremacist algorithms. The accuracy rate will undoubtedly drop if the people speaking are non-white, do not speak English as their first language, or speak a specific dialect (e.g. Black Vernacular English). Read more in this Business Insider article.

Tips for refining the transcript

The same visual and reading accessibility rules apply to audio transcripts. Here is a summary of accessibility tips to apply:

  • Use descriptive titles and headings
  • Make sure the text is large (16 pt or bigger), high contrast, and in a sans serif font
  • Describe non-speech sounds too (e.g. sigh, pause, laugh)
  • Label the speaker

Share the transcript

There are a few different ways to implement and share the transcript. Here are some examples:

  • The Disability Visibility podcast includes 2 links to the transcript, one a google doc and the other a PDF format.
  • Nancy Podcast includes the transcript in the webpage itself, under the "transcript" tab. - Nancy podcast example
  • Ted Talks includes the transcript in the webpage itself, AND highlights the specific text that is being spoken (this is some next level shit).


How to Test This

Manually check to see if there are transcripts associated with audio content. If there are no transcripts, it does not meet the WCAG criteria.


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