US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for July 29, 2019: Making podcasts more accessible

Coin World associate editor Chris Bulfinch and senior editor Jeff Starck host the weekly Coin World Podcast, available to everyone for free.

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When I wrote my Editorial for the July 29 issue of Coin World (appearing online as the “Monday Morning Brief” for July 15), I promoted our weekly podcasts and asked, “Have you joined the growing number of listeners who have subscribed to the Coin World Podcast, which made its debut during the first week in April?”

One of our readers, Dr. Henry J. Adler, wrote to discuss (politely) what he believed was a significant shortcoming to my question (read his comments below). Since coin collectors tend to be older, they are statistically more likely to have some degree of hearing loss, making listening to a podcast challenging for some and impossible for others. 

Dr. Adler writes that he has been “profoundly deaf since birth.” He also suggested that my oversight might be due to a lack of “a full understanding as to how difficult it is to listen to podcasts. ...”

In reality, I do understand, as I explained to him in my reply, a portion of which follows:

I am seriously hearing impaired myself, just as my father was and my grandfather before him (it is genetic, apparently). When not wearing my hearing aids (which I have had to use since before I turned 50; I am now 65), I cannot follow most conversations; and even when wearing them, still have trouble with word comprehension. I use closed- captioning when watching television and at the movie theater; otherwise, I would be unable to understand most of the dialogue. I am fortunate in that I still have some hearing, though even when wearing hearing aids, some common, everyday tasks prove challenging, including communicating effectively with staff members and viewing something as mundane as a television show trailer on my iPad.

Dr. Adler challenged us to provide transcripts, and I asked our digital media leadership to look into this. As it happens, our podcast host offers an inexpensive transcript service, so we will start making those available immediately.

Publishing podcasts is possible because technology exists to make it happen fairly easily. It now turns out that taking the next step, making an auditory publication available to those who are hearing impaired, is also possible through current technology, at the cost of a few American Innovation dollars per episode and some additional man-hours by staff. 

We have begun offering transcripts of the weekly podcasts at our website beginning with the newest one. We hope you will enjoy them. 

Dr. Adler’s Guest Commentary 

I have been collecting coins for over 40 years, and I have been profoundly deaf since birth.

What struck me today is the title of your editorial (Coin World, July 29 issue): “If you’re not listening to our podcasts, you’re missing some great commentary.” According to Oxford Dictionaries, a podcast is defined as “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device.”

According to Patrick Heller’s article “Coin Collector Demographics Affect Numismatic Supply and Demand” (Coin Week, Aug. 5, 2013), the average age of a coin collector is over 50. Another reference from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders indicates that chances for hearing loss increase with age. The percentage of all adults in the United States increases from 2 percent for the ages of 45–54 to 8.5 percent for the ages of 55–64 to 25 percent for the ages of 65–74 to 50 percent for those aged 75 and older (https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing). So, the editorial you wrote may not be feasible for all, especially those who may have difficulty listening to the podcasts that you highly recommended to your readers.

So, the question I have for you: are you willing to provide transcripts of those podcasts to coin collectors with hearing loss?

No, you are not the first one without a full understanding of how difficult it is to listen to podcasts, and neither would you be the last one! The first one I asked was Peter King of Sports Illustrated a few years ago. He has not responded to my inquiry about providing transcripts of his podcasts, and he most likely won’t, because he no longer works for Sports Illustrated

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