There has been a gradual shift among big name ebook publishers to branch out into developing audiobooks, an industry segment that is worth billions already and is expected to climb further. While this can be an exciting new option to comprehend a book, audiobooks can actually come as a boon to the blind, it being a handy option for them to connect to the literary world. Towards this, the Association Valentin-Haüy (AVH) in France has already taken the lead, ensuring those who suffer from varying degrees of visual impairment or are completely blind to still have access to enough reading material in the form of audiobooks. Now with the incorporation of a new technology like Eole that enables visually impaired reader have access to a wide variety of publications almost in real time. This no doubt is a healthy improvement over the audio cassettes of yore that the readers had to depend on as the only source of reading material even a decade ago. To make things all the more worse, readers often had to wait for a year to have the audiobook they desire.
All of that changed with the emergence of CDs which readers could order via phone or email. The CD’s then would be burned and dispatched free of cost. Now with the Eole download service that AVH has launched in April, users can actually download the audiobooks and listen on a suitable device, which can be anything like a smartphone, tablet, a PC, or special media players that would read aloud the books. The special software and hardware will require just a few hours to generate an entire audiobook based on a real printed version, something that would have otherwise required the services of volunteers to record the audiobooks.
The service has already started to make waves, making things better for the thousands of those completely blind or partially sighted to have access to audiobooks almost in real time.
“In six months we have registered over 1,600 users, downloading 30,000 files. The challenge now is to make this service known to a larger audience,” said Luc Maumet who heads the media library run by the Association Valentin-Haüy (AVH). The digital library has already shaped into one of the largest in France, with more than 6000 audiobooks in their rolls. Maumet also stated they wish to extend the service to those suffering from other forms of disabilities though rues legal hurdles hampering progress. “We would like to offer the service to people with other disabilities, such as dyslexia, as is the case in Sweden, but it’s not legal in France.”
Meanwhile efforts are already on to make easy availability of audiobooks to the blind or partially sighted a global phenomenon, which will make it mandatory for the publishers to make available their books to certified organisations entrusted to convert them to audiobooks or braille editions. The above is already compulsory in France vide a law passed in 2006 and could soon be extended to other parts of the world thanks to a treaty signed in June 2013 in Marrakech. This no doubt will come as a boon to the more than 285 million partially or completely blind living throughout the world.