"There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back."
February 24, 2011 9:37 AM   Subscribe

"The blind teaching the reader." An interesting interview that looks at how the blind read from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blogger SB Sarah.
posted by Fizz (7 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Boy, Sarah has really become a treasure, not only for romance readers but for readers in general. What a great piece.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:14 AM on February 24, 2011

The e-book revolution has been so interesting from an ability angle.

I don't have any current issues that affect my ability to read, etc., but an acquaintance of mine (S.) has a number of chronic pain issues that get in the way. She prefers large print, and she gets a headache if she reads a computer screen for too long. However, most large print books that she could find were geared toward the stereotypical large-print market: older people, many of whom read mysteries, romances and other cozy sorts of stuff. My friend is a big science fiction and fantasy reader who also loves young adult novels, so that was pretty much the opposite of most of the things she could find.

A Kindle addressed all three of these issues beautifully, opening up many more possibilities for her genre reading. Although the Kindle and other devices have many other weak points, accessibility-wise and not (DRM, on-screen controls, restriction of certain books being used in audio form), e-text seems like it's a nice example of universal design that can be used in different ways by different segments of the population. From the ginormous Braille books I saw in elementary school, and what Sassy discusses in the interview about how cost-prohibitive it is to create Braille and talking books, this seems like it can only make things easier.

Unfortunately, the friend who masterminded the group gift of the Kindle to S. works at an independent bookstore facing tough times. Bookstore Friend had to choose between helping her friend S. (who is very supportive of the store) and encouraging the forces eating away at the store's survival. Still, we've been able to have some good conversations about the ways in which e-books, etc. have opened up opportunities for genre writers and smaller presses, targeting readers who are particularly fond of certain genres.

Like S.
posted by Madamina at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2011

Also, I enjoyed the comment in which Sassy exhorted readers to "go get blindified." I like this Bitch.
posted by Madamina at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2011

Ah, I love SBTB. SB Sarah's posted an excellent overview of some of the issues facing blind folks in the age of the internet. We focus a lot on making our website accessible at my library but it's interesting to hear too about the options for digital reading that are out there for the blind.

And yes, Madamina, large print is awesome. I often read books in large print even though I'm nowhere near the age demographic.

If you've never heard a screenreader before, definitely watch the video in the link. It's startling the first time you hear one--they're so fast! It sounds like garbled nonsense until you get used to it.
posted by librarylis at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2011

I don't read romance novels much, but I do read SBTB!

I think one of the interesting points is that lots of new releases are (legally) scanned in, OCRed, and proofread by volunteers for sites like bookshare.org, and yet they would still be so much more accurate, and would be produced much faster, if production houses would just release ebooks based on the digital master copy that is used to produce the physical book... And yet, in many cases production houses produce their ebook the same way that volunteers to - by scanning in the physical manuscript and using OCR software! I've never read an explanation for why this is, beyond the fact that they are producing the ebook way too late in the process.
posted by muddgirl at 10:59 AM on February 24, 2011

I don't read romance novels much, but I do read SBTB!

I am just like this. I stumbled onto her blog via a twitter recommendation and while I do not read romance novels, I do appreciate her addressing broader topics when it comes to books, e-readers, publishing, etc.
posted by Fizz at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of my "must read daily" blogs. Sarah has a hilarious way of dissing bad books.
posted by francesca too at 11:52 AM on February 24, 2011

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