Audio-Taped Text

What is audio-taped text?

Audio-taped text is a classroom accommodation. This method can be used to minimize the effects of students' learning problems by literally bypassing their disabilities in favor of getting information acquired, stored, or expressed in some atypical manner (Rogan, 1998). Students can use this accommodation independently or with assistance to meet the demands of the curriculum.

Children with reading difficulties can listen to recorded text - textbooks, journals, newspapers - to gain information others get from reading. Audio books are available from many different sources. Teachers may also tape record reading assignments allowing students with reading difficulties to stay current with the rest of the class.

How can audio-taped text help your students?

Some students who have difficulty reading traditional print textbooks and related instructional materials may benefit from using audio-taped text to supplement the printed materials. Ideally, students should follow along in the text as the text is read aloud through the tape player. According to Deshler and Graham (1980) one of the major reasons for tape recording classroom assignments is to give students an alternative means of acquiring the content.

When used in the classroom with specific course objectives in mind, books on tape provide a human dimension to the text and encourage students to read with great care and attention to detail (Brevard, 1998). Audio-taped text helps increase the independence of students with reading and learning difficulties. This assistive technology provides a means for students to accomplish specific tasks on their own.

How can you implement audio-taped text?

  • Decisions concerning what is to be taped,
  • Use of taped materials to teach text usage and study skills,
  • Effective application of principles of learning,
  • Use of a marking system to aid students with coordinating tape recordings with text materials,
  • Careful consideration of the mechanics of recording, and
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of taped products and the learning that results from using them.

The Schwab Foundation for Learning (Raskind, 2000) also created several guidelines to consider before implementing assistive technology:

  • Determine the child's specific difficulty,
  • Identify the child's strengths,
  • Include the child in the selection process,
  • Examine the specific settings where the technology will be used,
  • Select technologies that work together,
  • Choose technologies that are easy to learn and operate, and
  • Select products that offer on-line and toll-free support, as well as convenient service locations.

Not all audio tapes work on all tape recorders. They may have varying speeds and formats. Variable speech control tape recorders enable the listener to play audio-taped text faster or slower than it was originally recorded. This may be useful for those who need to have material presented at a slower pace or those who prefer to review material faster by speeding up the tape. The students should always have the printed version of what has been recorded in front of them while listening to the tape.

How do you decide on what type of material to tape?

When preparing tapes it is important for teachers to select materials that are interesting, varied, and motivating for students. The teacher should make frequent use of summaries, paraphrases, analogies, explanations, and examples.

In order to facilitate the learning of important facts and relationships, Deshler and Graham (1980) suggest that the tape be prepared so that it:

  • Is well organized,
  • Provides a variety of activities,
  • Highlights or cues important points,
  • Contains a variety of questions designed to facilitate recall and critical analyses,
  • Repeats key concepts or ideas,
  • Accommodates the assimilation and/or practice of new concepts or ideas, and
  • Provides immediate and delayed feedback.

While most classroom materials should not be taped verbatim, short stories, poetry, or short literature selections must usually be taped in their entirety to maintain their effectiveness.

How do students obtain audio-taped texts?

Books-on-Tape services are provided by Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. Students pay a one time $35 application fee. Institutional memberships are also available. Verification of a disability is required with the application. Information about the RFB&D program and its eligibility requirement, and applications for service are available from:

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540

Talking Books is a program of the United States Library of Congress that loans books, magazines, and four-track tape recorders to people not able to read conventional print. A physician is required to verify the child receiving service has a learning disability. For more information and an application visit:

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542

Talking Tapes
16 Sunnen Drive, Suite 162
St. Louis, MO 63143 

Books Aloud, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that loans books on tape free to members living in the United States. Individuals who are blind, visually impaired, physically disabled, or learning disabled and are unable to read conventional print, hold a book, or turn the pages are eligible. For an application and verification of disability form visit:

Books Aloud Inc.
P.O. Box 5731
San Jose, CA 95150 

Where can you find more information about audio-taped text?

Research Articles

Rogan, J. & Havir, C.L. (1998). Using accommodations
with students with learning disabilities. Preventing
School Failure, 38(1), 12-16.
Schumaker, J. B. & Deshler, D. D. (1984). An integrated
system for providing content to learning disabled 
adolescents using an audio-taped format. In W.M. 
Cruickshank & M. Kliebhan (Eds.) Early Adolescence 
to Early Adulthood (pp. 79-107). Syracuse University

Descriptive Articles

Brevard, L.P. (1998). Sound advice for the classroom.
Black Issues in Higher Education, 15(7),136.
Deshler, D.D. & Grahm, S. (1980). Tape recording
educational materials forsecondary handicapped 
students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 52-54.
Gorman, A.J. (1999). Start making sense: Libraries
don't have to be confusing places for kids with 
reading disabilities. School Library Journal, 22-25.
Gorman, A.J. (1997). The 15% solution: Kids
with LD can't wait. American Libraries, 97-98.


Raskind, M. (2000). Assistive Technology for
Children with Learning Difficulties San
Mateo, CA: Schwab Foundation for