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Slowing Down an Audio Book

By Allan Wilson on Tuesday 13th December, 2011 at 12:27pm

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We were recently asked how to slow down the reading of text on an audio book by a teacher some of whose pupils have reading difficulties. She was using Barrington Stokes books, accompanied by audio on CD as her pupils found it easier to follow the printed text if they could listen to the audio recording at the same time. Unfortunately, the text was read too quickly for some of her pupils to follow easily.

If you are using Windows Media Player to play the audio recording of the book, it is possible to slow down the play back speed. 

  1. Begin playing a file.
  2. Click the arrow below the 'Now Playing' tab, at the top of the screen, point to Enhancements, and then click Play Speed Settings. (see image, right)
  3. Move the Play Speed slider to the speed at which you want to play the content, or click the Slow, Normal, or Fast link.

The full instructions are available online at:



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Electronic textbooks from RNIB

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 14th September, 2010 at 5:58pm

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Over 100 textbooks (mainly for the English curriculum) and novels in Word 2003 format are now available from RNIB. The books were produced as a result of the Accessible Resources Pilot project led by Dolphin and Inclusive Technology. There is a list of the books available on the RNIB web site.

The Word files can be read by pupils directly on a computer, for example by changing zoom settings, colours or fonts, or with text-to-speech tools such as WordTalk or a screen reader such as Dolphin's HAL. The files can also be converted into Large print, Braille, audio or other accessible digital formats. Many of the books have descriptions of images such as pictures, graphs and diagrams, to help learners with sight loss.

The books are supplied on CD by RNIB and each CD includes a selection of converter and playback tools. There is a handling and postage charge of 2.99. Teachers or support staff can request books by completing a purchase order and declaration, available from the RNIB site.



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Dyslexia Scotland Education Conference Saturday 25th September

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 27th July, 2010 at 3:24pm

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If you teach or support children and young people with dyslexia, you will be interested in the Dyslexia Scotland Education Conference which this year will be held on Saturday 25th September at the Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot-Watt University.

The theme of the conference is "Innovative Practice in Dyslexia: A New Decade". The conference is again chaired by Dr. Gavin Reid and speakers include Rob Long (Chartered Educational Psychologist); Laura Ann Currie (HMIe); Fran Ranaldi, Dr Margaret Crombie, staff from Lochaber High School, Jennifer Drysdale (PT Learning Support, Fife) and yours truly. There are also panel sessions and an exhibition.

This conference is always a great event and if I wasn't otherwise engaged talking at the same time, I'd be at Margaret Crombie's session on the new Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit, and the workshop from the Lochaber team, who have created a web site with downloadable audio materials for revision.

To find out more and book, go to the Dyslexia Scotland web site.


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Accessible Formats from your local library

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 16th July, 2010 at 11:53am

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Forbes Smith, who is coordinating a working group looking at provision of accessible formats in East Dunbartonshire, emailed recently to say that East Dunbartonshire Library Service now has a service for providing downloadable audiobooks. So far they have over 560 titles available for immediate download onto PC, iPod or mp3 player and Forbes says they are adding 30 titles a week. Forbes says he signed up and then within half an hour of returning to his base, he had downloaded an audio book novel. There are an extensive range of materials available including lecture materials for university students.

To find out more, go to the East Dunbartonshire online library site, click on My Account, then on Audiobook Downloads.

Forbes' email prompted me to ask if other library services are doing the same thing, so I've just spent a few happy hours googling and exploring the online library catalogues in all 32 local authorities. I couldn't find many that have downloadable audio books, but almost all of them have audio books on cassette and CD, and also Large Print books.

South Ayrshire has downloadable 'eReads' (eBooks) as well as audio and Large Print, although they are Adobe ePUB format which is OK for readers with a physical impairment who need the book on screen, but not so good for people with visual impairment or dyslexia because the maximum font size is quite small and you can't read the book with text-to-speech software.

I've made up a table with the contact details and we'll add it to the Finding Books page on the Books for All web site.

So, when looking for books in accessible formats, don't forget your local library service!


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Lochaber High School Audio Revision Project

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 22nd December, 2009 at 12:26pm

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The Audio Revision Project at Lochaber High School is a really good example of how learning resources can be provided in alternative formats. The project is a collaboration between Dyslexia Lochaber, who raised the funding and organised some volunteer narrators, and Lochaber High School. Revision materials (some produced by staff, some commercial publications) were recorded and made available as podcasts on the school web site and the end result of the project is a set of revision materials for Standard Grade and Higher courses for all the subjects offered by the school in audio format. Pupils can listen to the revision materials online or download them to their own computers or audio players. Have a look at the project site and listen to what's been recorded.


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Spoken Ink short audio stories

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 22nd December, 2009 at 11:59am

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Spoken Ink is a new web site offering downloadable audio short stories by authors such as Roald Dahl, Angela Carter, Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood "and a host of new and unknown talent." Most of the stories cost 99p to download and you can listen to them on your computer, MP3 player, mobile phone etc.


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