World Book Day: Supporting Reading Online

Today is World Book Day. Around the country, thousands of children will be duly dressed as characters from their favourite books by day, and at night eagerly awaiting their bedtime story, or be quietly reading to themselves. But how accessible are books for people with disabilities and how can assistive technology help?

In truth, the way we read is changing. E-books and readers have been part of our reading landscape for some time now, and have the potential to be more accessible than the traditional book. Device functions such as reading aloud and being able to change the size and font of the text can make a big difference to whether someone is able to access the material. Even audiobooks are making a comeback, with websites offering subscriptions and access to the latest best sellers. These all hold the potential to be more accessible, for someone with a visual impairment for example, where Braille books often offer a much narrower selection and can be more costly.

The content we are reading has changed too. It’s not just books we want to read but news, magazine articles, social media posts and stories, sports results and more. There is so much out there to consume, and people are doing it in different ways. Technology like our assistive toolbar enables the reader to customise websites so they can access the information, or words in the way they need to. The good news is that more and more websites are taking this up – enabling a much wider group of people to use their site; although it’s not quite commonplace yet – as we would like to see.

This year, World Book Day is calling on readers of all ages to ‘share a million stories’ by reading aloud or listening to a story for at least ten minutes a day with friends or family. A report, by the National Literacy Trust released ahead of the day, shows that last year only a quarter of children read each day. This means that under-eighteens are reading less today than any other generation. There are many reasons why a child might not like to read, and some certainly encounter more challenges than others. However, World Book Day chief executive Cassie Chadderton believes that reading together in this way can turn a reluctant reader into a child who reads for pleasure.

With so much variety available to us, we would also encourage people to think about how they can make stories of all kinds accessible so everyone can enjoy them.

1000’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for online visitors. To find out more or to book a demo please contact the team.

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