5 Ways audiobooks make the world of reading more accessible

Audiobooks are one of the top publishing trends for 2023, and their demand and popularity continue to soar. Whether you’re an avid audiobook listener or you’ve never tried playing a book through your earbuds, the truth remains: in some ways, audiobooks make reading more accessible than physical books.

“How,” I hear you ask? Here are five ways that reading is more accessible by listening to audiobooks.

#1 Accessibility for people with visual impairments

Conventional reading can be an uncomfortable or simply impossible activity for visually impaired readers with conditions such as low vision, cataracts, and blindness. In the UK alone, more than 2 million people are living with sight loss, 340,000 of whom are registered as blind or partially sighted.

Thus, audiobooks provide a convenient alternative for visually impaired book lovers who want to enjoy a good read just like everyone else.

Plus, there are organisations like Calibre Audio (UK Charity) and National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (US Service), which provide free audiobook access for people who can’t read physical books due to visual impairment.

#2 Accessibility for people with some disorders and disabilities

More than visual impairments, there are several disorders and disabilities that unfortunately deprive people of the joy of reading a physical book. For example, reading can be exceptionally frustrating when dealing with ADHD due to inattention and hyperactivity. Also, a reading disorder like dyslexia makes it really difficult for someone to read and comprehend individual words in a text.

Disorders that disturb the ability to read may start in childhood and persist throughout one’s life. This can result in people who live with these conditions being discouraged from or entirely giving up reading as adults.

Since audiobooks do not require word-for-word reading, they can aid people to experience texts and books enjoyably. This helps people maintain a fulfilling hobby and improve their literacy and education.

#3 Accessibility for busy people who don’t have much time to read

Have you ever wanted to sit down and read, but… life just gets in the way? We sometimes get too caught up in our busy lives, and we forget about our beloved novel on our nightstand. So, audiobooks can be the answer for any book lover who leads a busy life, has caring responsibilities, or works / studies for long hours.

The advantage audiobooks have here is that you don’t need to hold them up and concentrate on print to experience them. All you have to do is pop your earbuds in and go about your day to enjoy your favourite book. This means that audiobooks open the door to something previously unheard of: multitasking while reading.

Now, don’t get us wrong. We know that relaxing with your favourite paperback is likely not the same as listening to the story being read. But, while some readers may need to focus solely on their book to get the most out of it, audiobooks can be extremely useful for busy parents with limited free time or anyone who wishes to experience a good book while cleaning, walking, or even working out at the gym.

#4 Accessibility for reading in the dark

Reading in the dark (or in a moving vehicle, for that matter) gets tiring very fast. Audiobooks can be a great solution for occasions where your environment prevents you from opening and reading a physical copy. This includes:

  • reading in a dark bedroom without disturbing someone
  • reading in a room with poor lighting
  • reading while in the car or a coach

Some even swear by falling asleep to audiobooks!

#5 Accessibility for young readers with learning difficulties

Finally, audiobooks have been proven to help young readers who struggle with learning difficulties improve their reading, writing, comprehension, critical thinking, and more. Audiobooks can also help children build on confidence and develop their love of reading as they provide a beginner-friendly way to engage with a story for a long period of time. More than that, audiobooks can help students with impairments get through longer passages and enhance their listening skills.

Ultimately, children can get near-identical benefits to physical reading by engaging with audiobooks for some of their reading.

If you like reading about inclusivity in the publishing industry, check out our blog post about gender-inclusive writing and our recommendations for LGBTQIA+ nonfiction.

Finally, don’t forget to follow our socials for more comprehensive content for writers and readers alike!

by Anna Kiousi