Podcasters have been under pressure from the deaf and hard of hearing communities to make their shows more accessible through transcripts. Some have even filed lawsuits. In a move to make its content more accessible, NPR has struck a deal with the U.K.-based Take 1 to transcribe some of the network’s podcasts and news programming.
Under the contract, which started in January but was only just announced, Take 1 is providing NPR with XML-based transcriptions for more than 30 daily and weekly programs and limited series, with turnaround times ranging from a few days to just a few hours. The NPR Politics Podcast is one such show being put into the written word. See an example of how that looks on NPR’s website HERE.
Laura Soto-Barra, Chief of Research Archives & Data Strategy at NPR, said that one of her biggest challenges when finding a company to transcribe the network’s content was most were unable to handle the high volume and rush deadlines that they require. Others were too expensive.
“NPR poses an added challenge due to the many specialized subjects we cover, from world politics to science and medicine. Still additionally, the tech requirements and the format that allows the transcript to be ingested in the NPR systems present additional challenges not all companies can resolve,” Soto-Barra said. “We’ve known the Take 1 team for many years, we’ve used their translation services in the past, and they were one of the very few I knew that could deliver against this brief.”
The deal integrates Take 1’s transcripts into NPR’s content production process for shows like “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” and are supplied as XML to integrate with NPR systems’ internal workflows. That helps speed their processing and posting to the NPR website.
Transcript availability has been an increased focus of podcasters, especially after some deaf and hard of hearing activists last year turned to the courts to push podcasters into making their shows more accessible. The National Association of the Deaf and Disability Rights Advocates in December filed a lawsuit against Stitcher and Pandora parent SiriusXM on behalf of five deaf members alleging it was not doing enough to make their programming accessible to people who are hearing challenged. The complaint asks the federal court to order the podcasters to not only make transcripts available, but also award the plaintiffs unspecified compensatory damages and legal fees.
Several podcast companies have been looking for ways to make their shows more accessible. Spotify announced last May that it was rolling out a “limited beta” test of a new auto transcription feature as part of several updates to its app.
Amazon said in November that it is also making a synchronized transcription feature available on its Amazon Music app, giving listeners the option to follow along to an episode with a written transcript. Synchronized transcriptions are being rolled out in phases.
The National Association of the Deaf says there are more than 48 million deaf and hard of hearing Americans.