CNIB/Beyond Print Audiobooks
Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Library was originally involved in the creation and circulation of braille materials and began circulating "talking books" on 33 1/3 rpm records in the 1930s. By the 1950s, the CNIB was creating its own talking books and in the 1960s, CNIB Library transitioned from vinyl talking books to cassette tape audiobooks. In 2002, CNIB Library converted the cassette tape audiobook collection to Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) CD books.
The Audio Publishing Department
The audio publishing department of the CNIB operates within Beyond Print, a social enterprise that provides accessible-format materials to the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) and to Canadian publishers who are interested in having commercial audiobooks created on their behalf.
The CNIB audio publishing department produces accessible digital audiobooks to the DAISY audio 2.02 standard. The DAISY format is designed to be a complete audio substitute for print material, designed with enhanced navigation properties for use by people with print disabilities. The DAISY format allows users to search, place bookmarks, precisely navigate line by line, and regulate the speaking speed without any distortion. DAISY also allows for multilevel structuring, which enables producers to deliver multiple books or magazines together and convert complex print materials into accessible audio formats. DAISY audio projects can contain all elements present in print originals and are structured into distinct sections, enabling the reader to easily navigate back and forth- from a footnote back to the main body of the text- in ways that are impossible using conventional audio recordings (CNIB/Beyond Print, 2020).
In February 2021, CNIB/Beyond Print and eBOUND Canada published Experimentation Project for Accessible Audiobook Production: Best Practices in Publisher Workflow. The project connected CNIB/Beyond Print with five independent Canadian publishers interested in producing an audiobook for the first time. In collaboration, participants engaged in all stages of audiobook creation, from pre-production, production, and postproduction to delivery. Along the way, feedback was collected and used to create the best practices guide for publishers interested in creating 'born accessible' audiobooks.
Recommendations from the guide include:
- Incorporation of basic features of accessible production into audiobook workflows. Adding accessibility features to commercial audiobooks enriches the experience for print-disabled readers as well as and those who chose the format for other reasons including convenience or aesthetic preference.
- Encouraging publishers to include as much supplementary material from the print original in their audiobooks. Backmatter is as valuable to audiobook readers as it is to print readers including bibliographies and foot or endnotes.
- Employing image descriptions in audiobook editions of all print books that include content that is purely visual to convey this information to the listening reader. One key recommendation suggests that if authors learn image description techniques, descriptions can be written in the author's voice, allowing for a richer and more complete experience that is closer to the experience of print-edition readers.
Pre and Post Audiobook Recording
Centered around the idea of 'born accessible' books, the guide also recommends the following practices for pre and post audiobook recording.
The CNIB/Beyond Print Best Practices in Publisher Workflow guide is meant for independent Canadian publishers who do not have previous experience in commissioning audiobook production interested in introducing an accessible audio workflow into their publishing cycle.