How to Create a Podcast and Manage Ad Placements in RedCircle with a Screen Reader

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Des: If you are using a screen reader and you’re planning on starting a podcast in the next little while, I highly suggest you watch this video. We’re going to go through Red Circle using a screen reader. Now, Red Circle is a very popular podcasting platform that not only allows you to host your podcast, but you can also control the dynamic insertion of ads into your podcast. And it turns out that although it’s not 100% there, and we’re going to go through some of the pitfalls that this platform offers, you are, in the end, with these workarounds, able to do this relatively accessibly. So you’re able to actually control the ads in your show and determine when they’re placed, insert your own ads if you have them, and so on. So we’re going to go through how to achieve some of these features. We’re only using the free plan. And I have a blank account set up, ready to go. I’m sharing my screen with you, and I’m using the latest version of NVDA on Chrome. So the first thing that I wanted to show you is how to actually add a podcast. So let’s say we don’t have a podcast yet. We’re going to go down to the first heading, where it says create a podcast, and let’s hear what it has to say. I’m new to podcasting. I want to create a brand new podcast. That sounds like us. Let’s do that. I’m hitting enter on that, and it brings me into a dialogue. You need an image file. I’m just going to use a quick one that I have here. This is just a random file. We’re not going to do anything with this podcast. This is just going to be for us to test and play with. So no problem. All right. Now we can write our name. Test podcast. And then let’s see what happens when we tap. Okay. So we have a button that’s simply identified as normal. This is not an expected behavior pattern. What these buttons are actually referring to are unlabeled elements that you can adjust in this field here, which is your description for the podcast, which is unfortunately also unlabeled. But this is where the description is written. I tried earlier pasting in some text from Google Docs, and when you have that text formatted, such as with headings or with hyperlinks, it actually does carry over, but I didn’t test any shortcuts. Let’s see if the shortcuts work in here. Let’s try and bold this text. Now I’m going to listen to the description of the text attributes with NVDA key and F. It doesn’t sound like the bold actually happened. So that’s one limitation. I would suggest formatting your text first in Google Docs and then having it the way you like it and then coming over here and pasting it in. Another issue is when you tab in this, it actually doesn’t take you out of the editor as you would expect. Instead, well, it creates a tab key. So the way you would have to get out of this is by using the cursor commands. So turn off your NVDA cursor, or in this case, I guess, turn it on. Turn on browse mode with NVDA key and space. Now this is the inaccessible portion of this that I wanted to show you. When you have to choose a category, which is required, at least one here, you get a combo box. But look how it reads the categories to you. Listen. What the heck is that? What category is that supposed to be? Let’s see. What other categories can I choose from here? Yeah, because everybody wakes up in the morning and they want to listen to A73193456B podcasts. That’s definitely on everybody’s mind. Okay, so not accessible, right? Not great. Now, I’m using NVDA, and I’m using my NVDA in laptop layout. So I’m going to be telling you the keystrokes in that layout. There is, in the NVDA user guide, a very helpful table that I’ll link to in the description where you can see all of the desktop layout equivalents to the keystrokes that I’ll be describing today, which again are in the laptop layout. Okay, so in order to successfully manipulate this list with a screen reader, let’s put ourselves back into the editor. Once again, exit out of there manually. So the way I learned to manipulate these categories is by first using enter, typing in a search. So in my example, I have a tech podcast, so I type tech, T-E-C-H. Then I use the NVDA cursor. Now, for those who don’t know, the NVDA cursor is a separate cursor from the cursor that you navigate with. It’s a little confusing, but all you need to know is this cursor helps you read things that won’t necessarily be read by the standard cursor commands. So we’re going to take the NVDA cursor and use NVDA key, shift key, and right key to navigate using that cursor. And let’s see what we hear. So what we heard was it speaking the accessible name for the first search result, which as we have heard now many times is 009664 blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Not helpful to us. I then skipped that by once again pressing NVDA plus shift plus right arrow. What this is doing is it’s moving the NVDA cursor to the right. So the next thing that we arrived at was a tree view. Now, a tree view instinctively will tell you that there are some items inside of the tree view. So in order to navigate with the items inside of the tree view, we press NVDA key plus shift key plus down arrow. And now we are inside of the tree view. We hear caret down, which if you can press insert enter will expand certain options supposedly. Now that we are inside of this tree view, let’s navigate it and see what types of things it shows us. So let’s do NVDA key plus shift plus right arrow a few times. And there you have it. We have done a search for tech. And so what it has rendered for us now results that we can choose from based on tech. Now I’m sure somebody who’s a sighted user. This process is much simpler and it takes a lot less time. So if you are working at Red Circle or know somebody at Red Circle, I would urge you to show them this video or watch this video yourself and just get an idea for just the very easy kinds of solves that you can make for users. Okay, so let’s say we want to select tech news. There it is. In order to select this element, let’s review the command. NVDA key plus enter will select with the NVDA cursor. So let’s do that now. It should be now activated with the regular cursor. Let’s use insert key plus Z. I’m sorry, insert key plus space. I have it mapped for myself as the insert key plus space will take you back into the browser. And we sure hear tech news right under the primary category. So we have done it. If you want to do it for your secondary category, it works in exactly the same way. Let’s see what other kinds of things they have. Let’s type, I don’t know. And let’s see what comes up when we use these same commands. We get to the tree view. History, music, TV and film history. I like that. Let’s choose film history. Turn on the cursor again. And there it is. We have done it. The rest of it is pretty straightforward. Let’s fill that out real quick. I want to get to the next part with you. So test. We click create. And we’re not hearing anything. Oh, I see. We need to create a different web page. Well, my name is pretty unique, isn’t it? So I’m sure there’s not a Delgadio test. And sure enough. So we have our podcast here on Red Circle. Now what I want to show you is how to upload a file and then control the dynamic ad insertion that Red Circle offers. So let’s just click on test podcast here. And it’s going to give you all sorts of different options that you can expand in order to work on your podcast. So you’ve got your RSS feed. And here’s where you can manage your episodes. A heading for distribution. It’s really easy to do all of these things. The analytics are about the most accessible I’ve seen anywhere online for a podcast host. Let’s go back up. And let’s add our first episode. I navigated to the level one heading. And then right underneath that is the new episode button. So let’s just click on that. We’re placed into yet another dialogue. And artwork in this regard is not required. So let’s not bother with it. And then this will be Delgadio test podcast. And the description is unfortunately just as inaccessible as before. So like I said previously, I would highly recommend using Google Docs to just draft it first if you want to do any special formatting. That formatting will carry over. But let’s just do one here. Okay. Then we’ll use our cursor commands once again. NVDA key space. Get out of this. We choose a file to upload. And I have sample podcast that I’ll upload here that we recently recorded. And it jumped us further down the page, which is not ideal. So let’s go back up. This is back to the artwork. So we’re just going to fly through. And now we’ve gotten to publish date. And then you’re able to manipulate that. It’s just a regular field where you can delete and rewrite it however you would like. And you can also use a calendar view if that’s more of your thing. I’m going to show you what they give you in the more options in case you’re interested. You can add your subtitle. An external link. A summary specific to Apple because, of course, Apple has to have everything special for themselves. And then you have your button and transcript. This is one that’s really important. So I’m really appreciative that they have that. And your explicit settings. And the save as draft button. So I’m going to save that as a draft. I just hit space. And it’s loading. It’s saving the draft. And once this is ready, I’m going to show you how to actually play the show and add your advertisements in there. So it’s currently processing. In the meantime, let me show you, because it’s not immediately obvious, how you can edit your podcast once it’s already done the first time. It’s not super intuitive. So when you get to this menu button here, you click on this menu button. And all it does is it speaks menu graphic button again. What’s actually happening is some additional content has appeared at the bottom of the web page. So, again, if you work at Red Circle, this is like really basic, really easy to fix. Let’s jump down with control end. You can edit your episode just like that. Click on that. And you’re back in the edit screen. Okay. So we can close out again. So this is where we want to go now is to insertion points. Click on this. So since we’re only using the free version of Red Circle, we are not able to insert audio blocks. Those are done later in higher tier plans. So what we’re able to do is basically customize where we want the pre-generated ads from the Red Circle platform to play. This is especially useful. I listen to a lot of shows that just are talking and in the middle of the discussion, suddenly I’m hearing about the new deals at my nearby casino. And it’s very jarring. So thankfully Red Circle, not only does Red Circle give us the option to determine where those ads are, but they also, I don’t think on purpose, made it kind of accessible. So let me show you. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, pre-roll is an ad that airs before your podcast. Mid-roll is in the middle. And post-roll is, as you may have guessed, at the end of the podcast. So for right now, let’s say we’re trying to choose the pre-roll. Pre-roll, we’re going to click that and nothing happens. So let’s navigate down and see what else is on this page. You have a couple of clickable. That’s all it’s stated as. Well, I’ve done some playing around with these buttons and I can tell you that this first clickable skips backwards. This middle clickable plays the podcast. And this button skips forward a bit. And we’re paused. Okay. So that’s what those three clickables do. At this point, you’re hearing two things. You’re hearing the time code for the beginning of the audio, which is 0, 0, 0, 0. And then you have an edit field, which is very handy as the current time code of exactly where you are. So usually, I’ll just do this in Reaper and use something like Control-Shift-J to just determine the time at each ad break. But if I’ve forgotten to do that, you can just play it. Let’s jump right in and talk about the news from this week. Google unveiled more about project guidelines. And we’re just forwarding a little bit. I just want to show you that you can get information and a speaker direction indicator. So you can just jump through and say you’re trying to insert your mid-roll right here. You can go back up and hit mid-roll. This is the exact point you want, right? So let’s do Alt-A and copy this time selection. Okay, so now you hear insertion points. And here are your columns. So you have mid-roll one. And you can insert right here the time code that we had in the player. So we can tell it this is exactly the time code where we want that ad to happen. And you can insert right here the time code that we had in the player. So we can tell it this is exactly the time code where we want that ad to happen. At 13 minutes 34 seconds. 852 milliseconds. We can be very specific. If we had audio blocks, this is the combo box where we would be able to assign them. But since we’re on the free plan, we don’t. If we end up upgrading, then I’ll be sure to show you how to manipulate those audio blocks. And then you can save your ads. And just like that, you’re able to determine where your ads play relatively accessibly using the Red Circle hosting platform. So that’s about all of the functionality that I’ve explored beyond the ability to monitor your… Well, let’s look at that before we move on. Let me show you how to look at your podcast analytics. So we’ll click on analytics. And then here you’re able to filter out through any date range. So obviously we just created this podcast not more than 10 minutes ago. So there’s not going to be much information. Check this out. A lot of the stuff you have to pay for, granted. And so right now we don’t have as much data as we would like. But once you actually start to put podcasts up, you’ll get a pretty good representation. And even at the free level of how many downloads you have and what types of devices are actually interacting with your content. So it’s pretty neat. Again, if somebody has an even better analytics platform out there, please let me know. But I love what I have seen so far from Red Circle. And like I said, I’d feel like the initial just not being able to choose your own category using the traditional keyboard commands might be a little jarring to some people. So I just wanted to show you and try and break down the barrier to entry just a little bit more. So that’s all for now. Make sure to share your podcast with us in the comments, especially if you made it on Red Circle. And let us know how your podcast journey is going. Thanks for watching, and I’ll talk to you next time.

Starting a podcast can be overwhelming. Everyone seems to be trying to sell you on something, whether it’s a podcaster trying to hock their latest course, to podcast hosting providers rushing to upsell you at every opportunity, the signal-to-noise ratio for beginning podcasters is not great.

For blind and low vision podcasters, this issue becomes compounded with concerns that their podcast host of choice lacks key accessibility considerations. 

RedCircle is one of the most prominent podcast hosts today. Instead of charging a subscription right out of the gate, RedCircle takes a cut out of advertising proceeds. I was intrigued by this business model and wanted to give this platform a try. The platform boasts features like dynamic ad insertion, which takes the heavy lifting out of managing a database of sponsored audio. 

Surprisingly, a great deal of RedCircle’s interface is, while not entirely accessible, still usable in conjunction with screen readers.

Here is everything you’ll need to know to get started with your own podcast using the RedCircle platform.

Getting Started with Red Circle

Creating a Podcast on RedCircle Using a Screen Reader

  1. Navigate to ‘Create a Podcast.’
  2. Enter your podcast details, including an image and name. Images need to be at least 1400×1400 and less than 3000×3000 PX.
  3. Write your description.

Note: The buttons to perform the formatting functions in the description’s editor are not labeled. Instead, I suggest using a different word processor like Google Docs or Word to format the text before pasting it in the RedCircle editor.

Selecting Categories for your RedCircle Podcast

Categories are read out as strings of numbers and letters, making selecting categories via traditional arrow keys impossible.

Instead, use the following keystrokes. I am using the Laptop Layout in NVDA. You can find the Desktop Layout equivalents in the NVDA User Guide.

  1. When in the combo box, type a search term for the categories. It’s important to note that you need to search for a category, otherwise only a few results at a time are displayed in step 4.
  2. Once you’ve typed your search in the combo box, use the NVDA key-shift-right arrow to manipulate the NVDA cursor until you arrive at a treeview. 
  3. Use NVDA key-shift-down arrow to interact with the treeview.
  4. Then use NVDA key-shift-right and left arrows to navigate the categories.
  5. You can repeat this same process for your secondary category, but note this is optional.

Accessibly Uploading and Managing Episodes on RedCircle

This part of the process is relatively straightforward. Since dragging isn’t possible at this time for screen reader users, use the “select files” button to upload your media.

Add your episode title and your optional episode artwork.

You’ll also have another editor with the same accessibility issues described above, so make sure to use a different editor to format your show notes before you paste them into the description field.

Select “Save as draft” or “Publish.”

Accessibly Inserting Ads into Podcasts on RedCircle

One of RedCircle’s unique selling propositions is the ability to dynamically insert ad content. It might not be intuitive, but the process of inserting ads can be done using a screen reader.

  1. Navigate to the “insertion points” heading while in your podcast view.
  2. You’ll encounter three clickable items before a time stamp, which should be at 00:00:00. The three buttons preceding the time code are, in order from top to bottom, rewind, play/pause, and fast forward. As the file plays, there is an edit field below the time code that continually updates up to the nearest millisecond. 
  3. Once you’ve reached the point where you want the ad inserted, copy the time code from the edit field and find the “Add Insertion Point” button.
  4. Enter the table and find your newly created insertion point. Use the tab key until you arrive in the edit field in the second column. Use control A and then control V to paste the time code, replacing what is in this field.

Final Thoughts

While Red Circle is not fully accessible for screen reader users, with the right knowledge and some patience, it’s possible to use the platform effectively for podcast hosting and management. 

Starting a podcast isn’t easy, but I hope this guide helped take some of the effort out of the equation for anyone thinking of getting into the podcasting game.

Have questions about using RedCircle to host a podcast? Email me and I’ll try to help.