Friday, June 23, 2017

Harry Potter and the Tax On The Blind

Image description: tweet by Titanium Cranium (@FelicityTC)
including three screenshots of a Harry potter book in three different formats
on Amazon. Text: “Harry Potter on Amazon - Print: $6.39 Audio: $44.99
Braille: $100.00 #CripTax”
Tumblr user actuallyblind debunks the idea that charging 8 to 10 times more for audio and Braille version of books is just covering the cost of production:
But those defenders of higher prices are reversing the argument to justify fleecing disabled readers.
What do I mean by that? 
Braille is not magic. It is done by taking plain text and feeding it through fairly affordable translation software, creating a document that can easily be printed in braille. All that time and effort and special software? IS NOT FOR THE BRAILLE... 
Printing in braille is cheap; reverse engineering a finished text to print it in braille IS NOT. Same with those audio books. After a book is completed and, often, after it has already been published, the publisher arranges to have the book recorded by a professional voice actor/reader, which usually also involves a recording producer... However: that cost? IS RARELY FACTORED INTO THE BUDGET OF PRINTING A BOOK. 
[The claim that Braille and audio] formats are more expensive to produce so they have to be priced higher is only true if you completely throw out the premise that publishers have an obligation to account for disabled readers when they are actually budgeting for and publishing the book."
In my experience as a designer, I've noticed that the high cost of creating accessible features-- whether it's on a website or a building-- is not due to the features costing anything exorbitant. The actual high cost comes in when there is a lack of considering accessibility issues from the very start and you have to retro-fit those features in. Whenever this approach is a project's primary approach to accessibility, then accessibility seems expensive. The true is expense is a failure to plan.

Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to blame disabled people for wanting accessibility to the same resources as everyone else instead of blaming the designers or publishers or the people responsible for hiring and directing them.

If you're about to say something like "Oh, no one has to read entertainment books, I'm sure it's taken care of in schools, tumblr user inlustris weighs in:
My mom is a textbook braillest. She has the software, fixes the formatting, takes the textbook and makes it translatable into braille. Most of her work ends up becoming rush jobs, because schools always forget about their blind students and the materials that they need. They start semesters without the right textbooks, are provided the materials late, can’t take the tests at the same times, because schools and teachers usually lack the foresight to provide the materials in advance. 
What we need is for more designers, publishers and project design leads to learn about the principles of universal design.

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