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  • Writer's pictureThabo Baseki

Disability Etiquette: Use Audiobooks

Updated: Feb 11


A woman is listening to content using a headset



In our previous article, we discussed some ways we can make our documents accessible to blind people. Can you recall? We spoke about using heading styles, lists, and even adding alternative descriptive text to images. Formats, or how we deliver our documents/content also matters, and that includes producing our books in audio form.


What Is An Audiobook?

As the name suggests, an audiobook is a recording/conversion of text to speech. This can be accomplished through human reading, or text-to-speech AI conversion. Previously, these were stored on CDs and radio tapes. In a digital world today, audiobooks can be found on the web such as from Amazon, iBooks, Google Books, Libre Vox and more virtual places.


Why Make An Audiobook?

There are a number of reasons why you should convert your book into audio. Let us run through a few:

  1. Reach a wider audience: As people, we have varying preferences. Some people prefer reading, and some prefer listening. When you produce an audiobook, you cater for both persons who prefer reading, and those who prefer listening to a book as it is read aloud to them. Bringing it home, you are helping blind people who may not have access to a screen reader to read your book.

  2. Offers flexibility: When you produce an audiobook, you give your readers and listeners the flexibility to consume your content at any give time. For instance, they can listen to the audio version of your book while driving, cooking, or working on other things. This can also be a marketing tool as the other person might overhear the reading of your book and ask about it.

  3. Communicates your message as you intend: Suppose your book has terms that are only known to a few people, or even those that you self-created. The audio version of your book will educate your reader/listeners how to pronounce your terminologies.

  4. Cheaper to make: Talking about accessibility, will it be easier for you to produce a Braille hardcopy so as to reach the blind community, or an audiobook will be cheaper? Without a doubt, an audiobook will be far more cheaper. With services such as voices.com and ACX, you can easily produce your book into audio at a far much cheaper cost.

These are some of the many reasons why you need to turn your text into audio. Does it end there? Let’s explore ways to make this more engaging for blind people.


Use DAISY

When you produce an audio book, you will probably use formats such as Wave and MP3. Have you ever heard of the DAISY format? DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information SYstem. This format gives you the opportunity to create what we might refer to as a digital talking book. The book can be played on a computer or on a DAISY player such as a Victor Reader.


Why Use DAISY Format?

You might ask, why use DAISY format when I can easily provide an MP3 or Wave file. To answer this question, let’s compare the two reasons below…

  1. In a tape or CD, the listener has only the option of skipping in chunk segments. In DAISY, your listener can move in smaller segments such as from heading to heading, or even article to article.

  2. Tape and audio CD offer one type of format, audio only, while DAISY can contain both text and audio in one book. This enables a blind person to take advantage on both sides. They can enjoy the narration of your book, and at the same time place-marking on the text version.


Is your content available in audio format. Be one of those that make information accessible to people with disabilities. Now that we have talked to authors, let us gather here in our next article to address video content creators.

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