A Book Apart

Accessibility for Everyone, now available in audiobook!

Sep 27, 2018

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We were thrilled to launch Accessibility for Everyone in paperback and ebook just one year ago, and now Laura’s added an audiobook to the mix—available on Audible! Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the audiobook, plus grab a special code to save an extra 10% on the paperback and ebook versions.

ABA: What made you decide to create an audio version of your book?

Laura Kalbag: All the way from my initial proposal for the book, I knew I wanted to make an audiobook version. In much of the book, I advocate for providing alternative formats of content to make our websites more inclusive, it makes sense that we do the same for the book itself! Audiobooks can be valuable for people who are blind or have visual impairments, and also for people who have learning difficulties or find reading difficult. Audiobooks are also great for folks who just want to be able to read a book while they’re doing something else, like driving their car or walking their dog.

To make the audiobook a genuine alternative to the paperback or ebook, it was important to me that I kept all the content in, unabridged. Luckily there’s not much code in the book. (Can you imagine me reading lines and lines of code aloud?!) As A Book Apart books are brief by design, Accessibility For Everyone is three and a half hours long in audio form, meaning you could listen to it in an afternoon.

ABA: What was the process like? How long did it take?

LK: Overall it took around six months in total. It took us a while to get started, as my audio recordings had technical issues, and I didn’t sound very natural. Early on, I got some great feedback on the first chapter from some kind folks who regularly listen to audiobook, and that shaped the tone and my approach to reading code.

We started making real progress when my brother, Sam Kalbag, came to visit and we recorded together in my spare room. Having somebody who knew how best to set up the microphone and recording environment, and give me insider knowledge made a big difference. Sam is both trained in producing audio, and is also an avid listener to audiobooks, so I was incredibly lucky to have the benefit of his expertise. As my brother, he also helped me feel less self-conscious while I was recording...it wound up feeling like I was just reading a book aloud to him like I did when we were kids. This meant the audio sounded way more natural. Even when I wasn’t with him for the later chapters, I just pretended he was sitting across from me to help me keep it sounding consistent.

Once we’d finished recording, I handed it all over to Sam to edit. He stuck to Audible’s strict requirements for audio, cut the audio together so it resembled the paperback, and only mildly teased me when I pronounced “prevalent” two different ways in the same book.

ABA: What did you learn that you weren’t expecting to learn?

LK: I’d always assumed it would be most efficient to edit the audio as we were recording, stopping when I mucked it up or bashed the microphone with my knee, to record over that mistake, saving time later. Sam explained the most important thing is that the narration flowed naturally, and that we just kept going until I needed a break. This meant that every time I misspoke, fidgeted, or there was a noisy bird outside, we recovered as quickly as possible, said “Again!” to mark the need for an edit in the audio, and started the sentence again.

It was also surprising how exhausting it was to read aloud for such a long time. Most of the final audio was recorded over two three-hour-long sessions. As the book audio is only three and a half hours long, that tells you how often Sam had to hear “Again!”

ABA: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting to record?

LK: For the first recording, I wrote out a script, reformatting the first chapter of the book into what I thought looked like “something that is read aloud.” Turns out this just meant that first recording sounded really stilted, like an amateur reading a script rather than an author reading a book.

Following Sam’s advice, I just read from the book itself. I already knew the text pretty thoroughly, and I could easily rerecord if I fumbled a line. I read from the ebook on iBooks on my phone. This meant I could “turn the page” without making noise with the paper, tapping a key, or clicking a mouse. And that the text could be resized to make for a comfortable reading distance, also ensuring I could see far forward enough to read with a natural flow.

ABA: Your brother, Sam, recorded and produced all the audio (that’s amazing)—how was it working with your brother?

LK: It was really fun. We’d never worked on anything together before, so it was fun to see him do all the stuff he’s really good at, and for me to be able to sit back and let him tell me how to do it all. Because we’re close, it meant we could be honest with each other about how it was going, and what we expected of each other. A lot of the time this came down to me unprofessionally panicking about being rubbish, and him being able to correct me without any awkwardness when I made silly mistakes. And that’s before he did all the hard work of editing, producing, mastering, and all the other tasks he handled without me needing to worry about what they were even called. I couldn’t have made this audiobook without him.

Listen to a sample from the audiobook, then check it out on Audible!

Design with accessibility in mind to make the web more inclusive for everyone. Join us in celebrating the one year anniversary of Accessibility for Everyone and save an extra 10% with coupon code AFE1 when you order the paperback and ebook together!

>Hurry—offer ends September 28 at 11:59pm EDT. Sorry! This offer has ended.