VE STORIES

Finding Back the Joy of Reading! World Book Day 2022

By Nibin Mathews, IIIT Bangalore

Nibin found a friend in Audible & Storytel (Accessible & Expressive audiobooks platforms)

When I was growing up, as a school-going boy interested in reading, I searched the libraries to find books. Braille Books. To my surprise, the only Braille books available were textbooks and religious books. That surely wasn’t my cup of tea. I was eager to read fiction and science fantasy novels but couldn’t find one that was accessible for me.

Scanning those 500/1000 pages of a book via Optical Character Recognition wasn’t always convenient and to be honest, I didn’t enjoy listening to the book as a robotic synthesizer speech. The emotions the book meant to evoke were watered down when I listened to the robotic monotonous reading of the novels.

Then one fine day in 2019, my friend Shobi gifted me a one-year subscription to Audible. Audible is an online audiobook and podcast service that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content. Little did I know this platform would revive my love for reading. I was taken aback when I heard my first book on audible. The fact that a human voice was reading the book and displaying emotions via voice made me never want to stop listening to the books. These real voices, which in most cases are the authors, were laughing, crying, shouting, etc.

Another platform that I came across in 2020 is Storytell. The highlight of this digital audiobook platform is that it satisfies my Keralite soul that has always longed to listen to Malayalam (language of Kerala) books. On the weekends I often spend time listening to my favourite Malayalam books, sometimes listening to my favourite passages over and over.

As we celebrate World Book Day this year, I can not help but appreciate the way technology has given back to me my love for reading. These platforms are mainstream yet accessible in nature. A real feeling of inclusion!

A digital platform isn’t accessible by default. It takes layers of trails and errors intending to provide multiple layers of accessibility. Fortunately, platforms like Audible and Storytell are catering to diversity without compromising quality.

“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”
– Napoleon.

In the 'Stories' section, we attempt to document our experiences while volunteering, special people we have encountered in this journey. If you have volunteered with Vision Empower and have an interesting experience or story to share, do write to us.