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~ Accessibility ~

Miss Lawrence avatar in a full body cast, grinning and trying to balance on crutches.
I aim to make this blog as accessible as possible to those with illnesses and disabilities, because I know from experience how difficult it can be to find resources online that consider those additional needs.

To achieve this, I will always try to ensure that blog posts and images are 'screen reader friendly', and that my reviews mention aspects of the narration which may be problematic (for example, for those whose sensory difficulties may be exacerbated by an audiobook with sound effects, background music,  or multiple narrators).

The @MLHearingThings Instagram page also aims to have detailed ALT Text descriptions of all the book covers, to enhance the experience for followers who are using screen-reader software to access social media.

The parchment-coloured page background for this blog may seem a little 'old fashioned' compared to the sleek, bright white blogs that are considered the most professional, but this is to help people (like myself) who have sensitivity to backlit white screens, which trigger eye pain and/or migraines when attempting to read on them. This can be further reduced by inverting the colours using the Userway plugin mentioned below.

Website Voice icon
One of the ways I hope to make it easier to 'read' the posts, is with a TTS (text-to-speech) plugin from websitevoice.com. Many people who cannot read print at all already use screen-reader technology, but those of us whose ability varies from day to day frequently have it switched off and need to export articles to a TTS app instead, which is a faff! In recognition of this, you can now opt to have any blog post on this site read aloud to you by clicking this lilac/black speaker icon on the top right of each post and on the static pages.  I selected a British English, female voice because it is the closest match to my own and therefore the most suitable for reviews written in first-person. Unfortunately I cannot control the speed of the TTS voice, so it may be a little swift for some, and many will still find it somewhat robotic (though it's a lot better than many TTS programs I've used over the years!). What this TTS plugin does is give people the option to listen to the review rather than having to read it - and it works on mobile as well as desktop. (If you have any issues then please let me know, as I haven't been able to test it on all browser types.)

I utilise the opposite technology for writing many of the posts, relying upon voice-to-text audio transcription for most of my notes, and the best free service I have found for this so far is Otter. The first 600 minutes of audio transcription each month are free, and the premium service is £9.99 p/m thereafter, (£4.99 p/m for students). If you know of a better version then please let me know! I'm including the info here as it may help others as much as it has helped me.

Userway icon
You can also find a Userway plugin in the top right of the screen on mobile and desktop views of the blog. This application gives you options to: to increase the size of the text used on the blog, enlarge your cursor, change the contrast, desaturate the colours, highlight links, make fonts more legible, or have an American voice read out any part of the site including labels. (Unlike the other TTS plugin which is limited to reading posts.) It also had a keyboard navigation function but this doesn't work very smoothly with all areas of the blog, so I cannot recommend it at present.

I will also try to include trigger warnings for especially sensitive themes, but I read a broad range of books, many of which are set in historical time periods with different cultural practices. If there's something that causes you particular distress then please do your own research before purchasing, or ask me in the comments or on Twitter (@MLHearingThings).

If you identify additional features or changes which would increase the accessibility of this site, then do please contact me so that they can be considered.

New for May 2019! I have launched the MLHT Book-Blogger Accessibility Affiliate Directory! Book-bloggers who commit to making their sites more accessible can sign up and display our badge to help more people discover accessible blogs and encourage bloggers to become more inclusive. You can see the directory or apply to join it, here.

More information on the original book group which inspired these reviews, and the importance of their accessibility, is available on the group's Facebook page. Further details about audiobook services for those with print-reading challenges is available in the Audiobook FAQ

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