How to make podcasts more suitable for people with hearing loss

Average American hear More than 16 hours Online audio content (such as podcasts) weekly. This is an increase of 17% over last year.

But not everyone finds it easy to listen.

Most people with hearing loss Yes Able to access podcasts: although 1 in 6 adults In the UK, affected by some hearing loss, only about 12% of adults are severely or severely deaf. Therefore, depending on the audio quality, listening environment, and whether hearing aids or noise-canceling headphones are used, most people with hearing loss are definitely likely to enjoy podcasts.

However, people with hearing processing impairments will also find listening to podcasts a challenge. Audio producer JN Benjamin, who suffers from auditory processing disorders, described it as being unable to control what her brain processes, which caused her to “hear too much.”

“In short,” she said, “I can’t control what my brain chooses to process, and there are all kinds of things that trigger it and create stress.” So when it comes to podcasts, sound design is important to Benjamin and other auditory processes. This is especially important for people with disabilities, because they hear a lot of sounds that other people might not hear.

On the surface, auditory processing disorders may look like the opposite of hearing loss-in one case, the listener hears a sound that other people may not hear, and in another case, the listener hears There are fewer voices than others.

But when it comes to podcasting, the challenges are similar.

Fortunately, podcasters and other audio content creators can do something to make their content more accessible to hearing impaired listeners or hearing processing impaired listeners. Fortunately, many of these adjustments will make the experience for all listeners more accessible. good.

Always clear voice

Professional recording equipment and editing software may not be available to everyone, but you can use Basic tools of trade A few hundred dollars.

However, recording equipment is not the only indicator of sound quality.

Karen Shepherd, Head of Professional Standards Boots hearing care He and the former chairman of the British Audiology Association (BAA) emphasized the importance of high-quality sound production, with almost no competing sound. For example, when you have multiple presenters, it is important that they do not talk to each other.

In addition to technically clear recordings, voice clarity is also very important. Lauren Ward, who studies media accessibility at York University, says that we find it easier to understand the accents we are familiar with.

This does not rule out podcasts for people with strong regional accents, but speaking slowly and clearly is especially helpful for hearing-impaired listeners.

Post-production attention

Creators can do many things in post-production to make the audio sound clearer.

Independent podcast and BBC radio producer Callum Ronan advises producers to take steps to record and edit:

  • Balance the audio of the left and right channels of the headphone/speaker
  • Eliminate microphone bleeding to avoid echo or delay
  • Mix content to balance the sound levels of multiple hosts
  • Use LUFS -16 to -18 loudness standards to prepare release documents

Watch your background music and ambient sound

For most people, auditory scene analysis or the ability to pick out a sound in a noisy environment is second nature.

Ward suggests thinking about when you last went to a party, there were many conversations, low background music and clinking glasses. Most people with normal hearing are able to “amplify” conversations they are interested in and block other sounds.

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