Disability Pride Month: 8 Reasons To Get Your SEND Students Listening To Audiobooks
18th July 2023
In this guest blog from Listening Books for Disability Pride Month (July), we find out why audiobooks are a brilliant and accessible component to support reading for pleasure alongside printed texts and e-books.
July is Disability Pride Month: an occasion to celebrate Disabled folks, share stories about what it means to be Disabled in today’s society, and engage in candid discussions about accessibility. What better time than now to shine a light on how you can make your school’s Readathon more accessible for Disabled students?
At Listening Books, when it comes to making reading accessible to everyone, we’re firm believers in the power of audio – here are eight reasons why.
1. Audiobooks can be more dyslexia-friendly 
By removing the need to decode printed words, audiobooks help dyslexic children to more easily focus on the meaning of the information they are receiving. This can lead to a wide range of benefits, including increased reading confidence, motivation to learn, involvement in school activities and academic performance.
2. Audiobooks can make it easier for children with attention deficit disorders to concentrate on stories 
Many pupils with ADD or ADHD find that listening to books offers fewer opportunities for distraction than reading the printed word. And for those who struggle to sit still or who like to multitask, audiobooks are the ideal way to enjoy literature without the need to stay glued to a page.
3. Audiobooks can make reading easier for physically disabled children 
Audiobooks are also a fantastic tool for children who may have difficulties holding a book, turning pages or taking notes while reading, for example. Incorporating audiobooks into your Readathon is a brilliant way to keep children with physical disabilities included in all your activities!
4. Audiobooks can help ease children’s anxiety 
If you have students who struggle with worries or low mood, audiobooks can help to soothe their minds. Being read to taps into our primal affinity for oral storytelling and provides much-needed comfort to young minds. Read for Good knows the value of oral storytelling and how important it is in their hospital programme, and audiobooks can give a sense of that same experience.
5. Audiobooks can increase enjoyment of reading and writing 
Students who face barriers to literature due to disability can grow to dislike English class, and struggle with their creative writing. However, those who listen to audiobooks are more likely to say that they actively enjoy reading and writing than non-listeners. In fact, more than half of children and young people who listen to audiobooks say that it has increased their interest in reading!
6. Audiobooks give struggling readers access to higher level texts more appropriate for their age and interests 
Children who have difficulty reading often find that the books available to them at their reading level were not written for their age bracket and do not suit their interests, which can foster a lack of motivation to read and a dislike of literature in general. Without the need to decode printed text, struggling readers who listen to audiobooks can access texts that actually interest and excite them.
7. Audiobooks allow children of differing reading abilities to enjoy stories together 
Being able to access a wider range of texts also allows struggling readers to enjoy the same stories as their peers. This benefits children socially as they can be included in bookish discussions and bond with others over their favourite stories, leading to an improved sense of wellbeing.
8. Audiobooks encourage children to identify as good readers 
Studies have shown that the vast majority of young people who describe themselves as poor readers come to see themselves as good readers after a period of audiobook usage. By giving your Disabled students access to audiobooks, you have the power to directly improve their self-esteem when it comes to reading!
For these reasons and many more, audiobooks are a fantastic tool for getting more of your pupils excited about reading, and the perfect way to make your Readathon more accessible for your SEND students this Disability Pride Month. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to read for pleasure, it’s the fun that counts! From comics to audiobooks, print books to e-books, reading and listening to stories has an amazing impact on children’s health, wellbeing and enjoyment!
Listening Books is a UK charity providing an audiobook lending service for people of all ages who find it difficult to read print or hold a book due to an illness, mental health condition, disability or learning difficulty. They have over 10,000 professionally recorded audiobooks in their collection, from best-selling children’s fiction to their Sound Learning educational titles, which support the national curriculum from Key Stage 1 right through to A-Level. Access to their service is available to individuals as well as organisations, with membership for schools starting from as little as £100 a year.
To learn more about how a membership to Listening Books can support your SEND students’ access to literacy, please click here.
Author: Emily Pye
N.B. Image provided by Listening Books is posed by models.
 Milani, A., Lorusso, M. L., & Molteni, M. (2010). The effects of audiobooks on the psychosocial adjustment of pre-adolescents and adolescents with dyslexia. Dyslexia, 16(1), 87–97.
[2 and 3] Baskin, B. H., & Harris, K. (1995). Heard Any Good Books Lately? The Case for Audiobooks in the Secondary Classroom. Journal of Reading, 38(5), 372–376.
[4 and 5] Best, E., Clark, C. and Picton, I. (2020). Children, young people and audiobooks before and during lockdown. London: National Literacy Trust.
[6 and 7] Best, E. (2020) Audiobooks and Literacy. London: National Literacy Trust.