Accessible Audiobook Production: General Recording Notes
This resource discusses some general technical guidelines that can be used when planning out audiobook production and post-production.
Illustrated children’s books present a unique challenge when it comes to recording audio. This resource discusses a few approaches you may consider.
Audiobook Production, Image Descriptions, Strategic Planning
Foundations and Rationale
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Audio versions of children’s books often require special attention, as more work may be required to ensure that the listening experience is as engaging as possible. Illustrated children’s books may present a unique challenge when it comes to audiobooks, and will need to be approached thoughtfully. There is no one size fits all solution.
Illustrated children’s books are very unique when it comes to accessibility. Often, the content, style, and format of the book will be a big factor in deciding how to best approach it, but there are multiple ways – and it should be a discussion between the publisher and author. Below we list two methods of approaching accessibility in enhanced, illustrated children’s books, but this is certainly not an exhaustive list!
If the images are integral to understanding the story or depict things that are not mentioned in the text of the book, then including image descriptions is strongly recommended. In this case, working with the author to write image descriptions that match the tone and style of the work would be ideal. The descriptions could be recorded at the same time as the text, and included in the media overlays.
Enhanced EPUBs are able to hold more than one audio track, so giving readers the option of “Read-along” and “Read-along with image descriptions” would ensure that everyone could have a rich experience.
If the images in the book simply demonstrate what is happening, or perhaps are too abstract to describe, you might consider adding music and/or sound effects to a book. This would include things like the sound of a motor or a horn if there is a car, the sounds of the landscape i.e. forest sounds if the images are based in a forest, animal sounds for animals etc. This would result in an enhanced experience for most readers.
Good narration is a big part of creating a great audiobook. Make sure that narrators and/or your ebook producers know about these guidelines. They enhance both accessibility and overall quality!