Further to a recent post, I have located the full research paper on The Effects of Audiobooks on the Psychosocial Adjustment of Pre-adolescents and Adolescents with Dyslexia and give a fuller summary here.

One of the most recommended compensatory strategies consists of using audiobooks in order to access scanned texts. Schools are encouraged to set up libraries containing a wide range of materials, fiction and non-fiction, to support learners with dyslexia an entrée into the curriculum.

The assumption – one I have made for years – is that audiobooks can enhance learners’ independence and be of valuable help in studying. The expectation is that this will then positively influence school performance and general well being. It is encouraging to read research on the topic that endorses one’s intuition.

The purpose of the study was to collect objective evidence of the benefits associated to the use of audiobooks for preadolescents and adolescents with dyslexia. Specifically its goal was to qualify and quantify benefits not only in terms of reading ability but also in terms of general well being. Based on parents’ and teachers’ reports, audiobooks seemed to exert a positive influence in reducing emotional-behavioural problems…. It is likely that a tool enhancing the subjects’ independence may contribute to reducing their sense of frustration, aggressiveness, oppositional behaviour and distractibility, as perceived by parents in the home setting. Furthermore, greater ease in studying could also reduce general distractibility.

However, teachers did not report such significant improvements. In fact much of the evidence relating to self-esteem and attitude was inconclusive. The selective improvements rather confirmed that the findings about improved reading precision could be specifically attributed to the use of audiobooks.

The authors of the study conclude: Audiobooks exerted a significant beneficial effect on reading accuracy. This is probably due to increased training in decoding written words, as the participants had to follow the recordings word-by-word on the written text, and possibly connected with increase in confidence and pleasure with the written text. Despite the limited study period and the complexity of the investigated variables, the present findings stress the relevance and efficacy of the use of audiobooks for adolescents with dyslexia.

The researchers recommend: A firmer establishment of partnerships with publishers … in order for these technologies to become a consolidated practice not a sporadic and individually driven initiative.

These Italian academics contend that in the UK, the use of didactic strategies and facilities for children with reading disabilities has become a common practice for many years already, because dyslexia is one legally recognised disability.

I think the implication that all is well in this country is somewhat misplaced. Learners with dyslexia are still, at times, subject to idiosyncratic provision and teachers still struggle to identify strategies to help children surmount delay in acquiring literacy.

Studies like this one will contribute to greater understanding and improved access to the curriculum for those with reading difficulties.