On 24 November I wrote about my inability to read a book on my Kindle due to text to speech not being enabled for the title, At that time I did not name the book as I wished to try to persuade the author and/or publisher to change their mind and enable text to speech thereby allowing me, as a blind person who is not able to read print, to access the book using my Kindle. Having received no answer from either the publisher or author I have, reluctantly decided to name the book, Free Will by Sam Harris, The title is available as an MP3 download (a fact discovered after some considerable Googling)! However blind people should, so far as is humanly possible, have the same choice regarding how they access books as sighted readers do. Sighted people can purchase the book in hard copy, as a Kindle download or on MP3. In contrast blind readers have only one option, to purchase the MP3 download. This is, to me unfair as it artificially limits my ability to choose how I access the work. I am not arguing that the provision of the book in hard copy is discriminatory. Such an argument would be risible. I can not read print but that is not the fault of the author and/or the publisher. However the author/publisher do have control regarding the Kindle version of Free Will and they have chosen not to enable text to Speech rendering the Kindle version inaccessible to those who can not read print.

As previously stated, all of my books have text to speech enabled. I believe that everyone irrespective of their disability is entitled to access books. To enable text to speech is such a minor matter for authors and publishers but it makes such a huge difference to the ability of visually impaired people to access the wonderful world of literature.

It may be objected that authors are not charities so why should they provide their books with text to speech enabled, especially if the selling of audio versions will generate additional income? As writers we are not mere players in the free market. We are citizens with moral obligations to our fellow man. There is nothing wrong with turning a profit and I am always delighted when I hear of authors who have done well, however money is not the be all and end all. We exist in a community and we owe duties to others. One of those duties is not to discriminate (albeit, in many cases unintentionally by failing to provide accessible versions of our books). I am not suggesting that authors spend hard earned money on producing expensive braille editions so that blind people can access them. I am, however saying that all authors should enable text to speech as it costs us nothing and, in addition creates a great deal of good will among visually impaired people, their family and friends.

(As of 13 December 2013 text to speech was not enabled on Sam Harris’s Free Will).


    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment. There is no cost entailed in enabling text to speech. The majority of authors do enable it (as do I). It is so frustrating that a minority of authors/publishers do not. All the best, Kevin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.