• Reading is not a practice limited to sight, as it can also be read by touch or hearing.
  • The design of different reading formats has allowed access to literature for people with disabilities and other difficulties.

Reading is a practice that we have mainly associated with the sense of sight. With the advent of audiobooks, we have begun to realize that literature can be enjoyed in other ways. Now, being able to have books in different formats not only serves to satisfy the varied tastes of readers, but it is essential to make the world a more accessible place for people with disabilities . Here are the options that allow you to read beyond vision.

Reading with sight

As we have been commenting, the sense that we have always associated with reading is sight, since it is the one that helps us to consume both physical and digital books. However, there are people with different disabilities and disorders who, although they can “physically” read, find it difficult to understand and assimilate the content. What to do about this situation? Adapt the text . Today there are tools capable of transforming what is written into a different or, simply, simpler language. We talk about some of them.

For people with ADHD or attention difficulties, bionic reading is very useful. It is an application —Bionic Reading— that highlights the beginning of some words to make it easier to read. This ensures that the reader does not pay attention to distractors, focuses their attention and understands the information more quickly. This tool, in the long term, could represent an important advance in the field of pedagogy, since its application would be enormously beneficial for people with learning disorders such as dyslexia.

In the case of easy reading, his system is based on applying certain norms and rules to simplify the texts and make them more accessible material. The recommendations to follow are the following: use a clear, neat and frill-free font, perfectly organize and structure the content, use short and simple sentences and make use of easy-to-understand vocabulary. Likewise, it is highly recommended that images be included that function as visual support for what is exposed.

Another way to facilitate access to literature is  by translating textual language into visual language , since the latter is much more understandable. The tool used to carry out this “translation” are pictograms, images that are part of the so-called Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems (SAAC) and that have two objectives: increase the level of expression (augmentative) and compensate ( alternative) communication difficulties. These must be self-explanatory, that is, not need additional clarification, be understandable to everyone regardless of their mother tongue, and be made up of simple images with little detail.

Read by touch

When you do not have vision or it is deteriorated, you have to use the other senses to read. Touch, for its part, is what is needed to access braille, the system invented by the Frenchman Louis Braille to meet the literacy needs of people with visual disabilities . It is not a language, but an alphabet that is configured through six-point cells organized into three rows and two columns. The user can recognize different letters and symbols with their fingers depending on whether the dots are raised or not. Thanks to braille, it is possible to transcribe all kinds of text —whether books or documents— so that blind people can read it.

Read by ear

Another way in which reading is made possible for those who cannot see is through audio. The first thing that comes to mind when talking about listened to literature is audiobooks, a format that created reluctance at first but is gaining more and more readers. In addition to accessibility, they have many other advantages: they allow you to carry out several activities at the same time, favor concentration, improve memory, are comfortable, and  enrich reading through the narrator’s interpretation.

Despite the multiple virtues of audiobooks, on some occasions their characteristics do not meet all the needs of people with disabilities. For this very reason, Daisy emerged, a more advanced audiobook format that encodes information in a different way to make it more navigable by users. With this system, whose material is organized and structured according to an index, readers can move comfortably from sequence to sequence, can search the text, place bookmarks, navigate line by line and even regulate the speed of speech without distorting the voice.

In summary, it is a relief to have all these reading possibilities: literature, as immense as it is necessary, must be within everyone’s reach.