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The use of digital talking books by people with print disabilities: a literature review

Anna Hampson Lundh (Department of Information Studies, School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University, Perth, Australia & Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Sweden)
Genevieve Marie Johnson (School of Education, Curtin University, Perth, Australia)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



The purpose of this paper is to analyse empirical studies regarding the use of digital talking books (Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) books) as well as the possibilities and limitations that users with print disabilities encounter when using these books. Upon fulfilment of this purpose, it is also possible to identify research needs in the area of talking books.


An analysis of 12 empirical studies concerning the use of DAISY books is conducted. The concept of affordances is employed in the analysis, which focuses on: users of talking books, talking books as objects, and the social settings in which talking books are used.


First, the reviewed literature indicates that the navigational features of the DAISY talking book appear to provide unprecedented affordances in terms of the users’ approaches to reading. However, the affordances of talking books depend, to some extent, on whether the users have visual impairments or dyslexia/reading and writing difficulties. Second, the reviewed literature illustrates that the affordances provided by talking books depend on the settings in which they are used, both in terms of specific social situations and wider socio-political contexts.


Although the need for assistive reading technologies, such as digital talking books, is large, research in this area is scarce, particularly from a user perspective. This paper describes the results of those studies which have actually been conducted on this topic and highlights areas that require further study.



This paper is part of the research project “Learning to read talking books: The documentary practices of children with print disabilities”, funded by the Curtin Senior Research Fellowship, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. The authors would like to thank Keith Hampson and Christine Yates for their valuable suggestions on how to improve earlier versions of this paper.


Lundh, A.H. and Johnson, G.M. (2015), "The use of digital talking books by people with print disabilities: a literature review", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 54-64.



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