Audio resources

Smartphone with headphones

Audio information can meet the needs of a wide range of people, as well as providing alternatives to print.

People absorb information in different ways and some may simply find that audio material is easier to digest than written material. When someone is dealing with health problems, it can be easier to listen to health information because reading can be too tiring.

The provision of health information in audio format can benefit a wide range of people who cannot enjoy standard printed material, for example, those who are blind or visually impaired, people with a learning difficulty such as dyslexia and those who do not have English as their first language. There are many people who speak or read little English, but also read little of their native language. Audio information can be a great format for reaching these people.

The practical benefits of audio information include:

  • People can listen to audio in the background, when and where they want.
  • People who don’t have access to the internet may find audio information on tape, CD or digital CD useful for grasping small chunks of information at a time.
  • Audiobooks are often read out by actors but some include people who wish to share their real experiences. This may help listeners relate more personally to the information.
  • Audio information can offer useful navigation for the listener, allowing them to pause and skip through to the tracks they want to listen to.
  • Information produced in an audio format often takes into account large print guidelines so the packaging is clearly designed and easy-to-read.
  • The equipment needed to access audio information is usually inexpensive.

Some audiobooks offer specific, practical advice on how to manage the physiological and emotional impact of health problems. For example, Macmillan Cancer Support produces a range of audio CDs, based on their booklets, about many different types of cancer, various treatments, and living with cancer.  Healthtalkonline also produces audio versions of its films, which document people’s experiences.

Producing audio information requires some technical expertise. It is difficult to simply record written information, as the flow of the information is different between the written and spoken word. Some information will need to be rewritten and the order of information reconsidered (resequencing). You will also need to write a script from which the audio information will be produced.

As with all health information, it is vital to involve your target users in the development of your audio resources, to ensure they are accessible, understandable and meet needs.

Acknowledgement: Hilary Belshaw, Hen House Productions and  Emma Hook, Macmillan Cancer Support

Page last updated: 29/11/12