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How do YOU Read? Key Findings

These Key Findings are excerpted from the report "Accessible Publishing Research Project", published by the Association of Canadian Publishers.

The full report is available in two formats: a PDF that has been optimized for accessibility, and a fully accessible EPUB. The How do You Read portion of the report is in the section titled “Part One: Landscape Review” in the Table of Contents; in the PDF, it begins on page 12. Both versions are publicly available and can be downloaded from the NNELS Repository.

Key Findings

  1. Of the over 600 people with print disabilities who participated in the “How Do YOU Read?” Study, most want and need a much greater number and selection of accessible books. Only 10% of survey respondents found it “very easy” to find sufficiently accessible books. There is a major need for more accessible books. This is essential for full inclusion of people with print disabilities.
  2. Even if books are technically accessible, reading is often overly difficult to achieve. A very high number of study participants stated that learning and using book-reading technologies was very difficult, inconvenient, and time-consuming.
  3. There is a growing awareness that people with learning disabilities make up a greater percentage of people with print disabilities than has been previously understood; therefore, more research in this area is urgently needed, and outreach and services for people with learning disabilities need to be expanded.
  4. Many people with print disabilities do not know about the resources, services, and technologies that are available to them or are not able to take full advantage of them. This is especially true among groups that are currently under-served by these resources: readers of French, people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and low vision, women, low-income people, Indigenous people, people of colour, people who live in non-metropolitan areas, children and youth, seniors, and people with recent-onset print disabilities.
  5. Participants identified a significant need for more low-cost or free training and support about how to use reading technologies, and how to access other resources for people with print disabilities.
  6. Audiobooks are by far the most popular accessible format, especially for fiction, entertainment, and pleasure. 81% of survey respondents read audiobooks, including digital and CDs formats. Given the choice between reading an ebook and an audiobook, 61% of survey respondents would choose the audiobook. 90% of survey respondents prefer human-voiced narration.
  7. About one quarter of study participants cited costs—of reading technologies and/or books—as a barrier to reading.
  8. Many study participants reported that disability subsidy programs were inadequate to meet their reading needs, and that these programs were inequitable among people with different kinds of disabilities and among people living in different parts of Canada.
  9. About half of survey respondents (51%) purchase books, 58% in digital audio format and 54% in ebook format. About one quarter of survey respondents spend between $16 and $40 per month on books. A higher percentage of women than men (55% vs. 47%) reported buying books, despite lower incomes.
  10. Libraries are vital and well-used resources for people with print disabilities. The vast majority of survey respondents get books from their public library or from a library organization that provides shared services for people with print disabilities (such as NNELS or CELA).
  11. There is a significant need for timely diagnosis and supportive follow-up for people with print disabilities, and especially for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Study participants want professionals in the medical, educational, library, and social work sectors to have a better understanding of the needs of people with print disabilities.
  12. This study includes a significant number of people whose print disabilities stem from mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or cognitive impairment. More research is needed to understand the reading needs of people with these kinds of disabilities.