A former colleague, Leanne Duggan, sent me a link to a great essay on blind people and audiobooks. She is featured in the essay, and it was great to know that her voice is being shared.
We have blind people to thank for the development of the talking book. It’s an interesting history – a debt of gratitude that should be known and acknowledged. The clunky tech of yesteryear has evolved into the sweet ease of an audiobook on a smart phone.
Please take the time to read the essay. It’s well-written and not long.
The greater gift
Audiobooks are now mainstream. They can be listened to as a specific intentional act, but they can also enrich commutes and the performance of tasks that take very little conscious attention.
The benefits for blind people are obvious. For them audio is their primary means of access to entertainment and information. When we sit down to watch television, we use eyes and ears. In the days before television and the internet books were the go-to source, apart from radio. Without vision, books were inaccessible (with the exception of braille).
Audiobooks are a blessing to people with other disabilities – ones that making picking up and holding a book difficult, painful, impossible, or simply unpleasant.
My ability to hold things has deteriorated. What was once a sensual pleasure has become an ordeal (bibliophiles will know what I mean). I have been giving away my beloved hardcopy books, so they can be loved by others, and not remain now mute tokens of days gone, never to be recovered.
Audiobooks are a blessing also to those with no disability but may be time poor. You can’t walk and read safely, but you can walk and listen.
I can’t imagine life without audiobooks now. The essay gave me an insight into blindness I hadn’t thought about, and a chance to be grateful to those pioneers of talking books.