Deaf and hard of hearing people are finally gaining access to the world of podcasting

Lauren Fox (L) and Jen Blyth (R) are both Deaf Source: Supplied

To mark the International Day of Sign Languages The Feed spoke to the co-host of Talking In Common, an Australian podcast translating their content into Auslan, and two Deaf people on what the development means for their community.

Consuming podcasts in Australian sign language has opened up Lauren Fox’s world. 

Lauren, who is Deaf, once had to read transcripts of her favourite podcasts. A new initiative that is translating podcasts into Auslan has made a huge difference, she said.

“Auslan is a visual language and I understand it one hundred per-cent of the time, when I read transcripts it’s harder to get the emotional information out of the page,” the 24-year-old told The Feed.

“I can misinterpret the information and the context. Auslan has its own syntax and grammar which is different to English.”

Lauren Fox
Lauren Fox

Over the last ten years, the number of monthly podcast listeners in Australia has grown from 1.6 million to nearly nine million. 

For most of this period, podcasts have remained out-of-reach for the some 30,000 Australians who are Deaf or hard of hearing. 

This motivated the hosts of Talking In Common to begin translating their lifestyle and parenting podcast into Auslan.

Kate Gudinski said she and co-host Sophie Panton wanted to create an inclusive space for their audience.

Sophie Panton (R) and Kate Gudinski (L)
Sophie Panton (R) and Kate Gudinski (L)

“When we teamed up with Auslan Stage Left to produce the videos, I was really surprised to find out no other podcasts were doing this,” she told The Feed.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in people viewing the translations, and it’s a very rewarding thing.”

Kate, who has a background in the music industry, said she became more aware of increasing accessibility for Auslan speakers through the presence of translators at live music events.

“I really hope it does grow and become a bigger part of the podcasting industry,” she told The Feed.

Deaf Australia chief executive Jen Blyth said she loved how Talking In Common had taken steps to ensure inclusion for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

Jen Blyth
Jen Blyth

“I’m incredibly proud to be Deaf, but I’ve always thought that being able to listen to podcasts and just consume information while driving to work or doing chores would be amazing.

“This podcast would be even more amazing if they had two interpreters to interpret the different people speaking, so the natural spoken dialogue that is happening could also be seen in Auslan, making it easier and more comfortable to engage with,” she told The Feed.

Jen said that bridging the gap between spoken English and Auslan could be tricky.

“One word in English could have five different signs in Auslan and vice versa,” she said.

“I often need context for references like famous quotes from the 80s and 90s before TV captioning was around.”

Lauren said that podcasts translated into Auslan helped her keep up to date with what's going on in the world.

“Having podcasts in Auslan allows me to tell my Deaf friends and my parents about the world, we can both learn something and it starts discussions between us,” she said.

“I’ve watched a few of the Talking In Common podcasts and they’re great. Moving forward I’d love to see more podcasts do the same, particularly news and comedy podcasts.”