Reading is important
It’s the way most information is passed along and people who find reading difficult risk missing out on things they need to know or would like to know. We plan to add codes to printed text so that people can hear it read to them through their headphones while they follow the text on the page.
Struggling with reading is embarrassing and it disadvantages people
Many people hide their reading difficulties because it’s embarrassing to admit to as an adult. Being a poor reader excludes people from important conversations, it’s dangerous if instructions are mis-read, and it can mean people having very personal information read to them by someone else.
It can also be off-putting and spoil the enjoyment of books. Stumbling over unfamiliar words can mean losing track of what the sentence is about, its rhythm and flow, and all the energy the writer put into it to lift it off the page. That’s the case for all sorts of readers, including those reading a language that isn’t their birth language. Hearing the words spoken as you follow on the page is like listening to a parent reading while you follow along, you ‘see what they say’. Audio books and videos are valuable alternatives but they take the place of reading, they don’t support it.
Readalongreads© will be the initial archive and hosting site for voice tracks linked to printed material, allowing people to hear the words on the page read privately to them through their headphones via a Smart device. We hope this will help to:
- reduce the stigma that goes with having reading difficulties.
- reduce the disadvantage that people with reading difficulties often experience.
- improve inclusion by making written documents – fact or fiction – more accessible to more people.
- improve the way people write information and other leaflets aimed at the public.
- support reading so that people get more from it.
- enhance the experience of reading by hearing how words are pronounced and how the writer wanted to emphasise them.
In May 2016, we took the first step towards demonstrating the way this might work with the publication of the anthology Let Me Tell You a Story. Ian McMillan, poet, broadcaster, and presenter of BBC Radio Three’s The Verb, kindly wrote and performed the Foreword for us. You can find that here.
We don’t expect to be anyone’s permanent solution. We’re not a business, we’re a starting point for you to try out the idea then, if it suits, to make your own sustainable arrangements.
What we want
We are interested in hosting fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and also factual material such as health information, research participant documents, and other similar work intended for public distribution. Our Submissions page and guidelines are in progress. In the meantime, please take a look our information – there’s even a science page that goes into a bit more depth about why we think this is an important move for readers and writers!