Monday, September 06, 2010

Audio textbooks

As school has begun the last several years, I've received emails and IMs from people asking about audio textbooks for use with students that print impaired. Often the person wonders if digitization could help.While the answer is "yes", I'm sure that there are rules to be followed, etc.  This is not any area that I'm follow, so it would be much better if people interested in audio textbooks (and other formats) contact their state or provincial library for help.  In addition, Family Connect has a list of over 200 "Libraries/Alternate Media and Learning Resources" in the United States.  For those outside of the U.S., another resource to contact is your national library.


Dan Donaldson said...

I am Dan Donaldson, an imaging professional whose company ( is focusing on library scanning applications. We manufacture the new small digital film scanner, the ST ViewScan. In addition we are adding other solutions for libraries this year. Specifically, I have keen interest in your article because this fall we are introducing a product for library staff and patrons to use to quickly scan books to audio files. The question we have is this. Apart from book publishers efforts to put certain books in an Audio format, is there a need at the local public, state, academic, or special library for a product such as this? It woudl not have the theatrical benefits of a human reading the book. But it does have a very natural sounding voice given to the text. The book is placed on the scanner, and in seconds each page is coverted to an audio file that can be listened to in real time, or it can be saved to a .wav or to an mp3 file. This would open up all books to the vision impared, rather than only select books. Would this be of interest?

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Dan, I've waited to see if anyone else would comment on your question.

My first reaction was "maybe", but then the more I think about it, the more I realize that this would be useful for anyone who is print-impaired or who prefers audio over printed text. The would be a need in schools who are trying to ensure that students with disabilities have access to content. It obviously has a more natural fit in a school setting, however, I think public libraries would also find it useful, depending on their patron needs.

I'm sure that the question everyone would ask first would be about copyright and fair use. Hopefully, you have information and case studies to help answer those concerns.