That’s the question I get most often right behind:

  1. Christine, when is your cookbook coming out?
  2. Christine, what’s Gordon Ramsay really like?
  3. Christine, are you really blind?
  4. Christine, how do you use Facebook or Twitter if you’re blind? (Or, Christine, is this really you?)

To which I answer:

  1. May 14, 2013.
  2. He’s hilarious, charismatic, and smells great.
  3. Yes.
  4. There’s something called technology—Apple has built-in screen readers on all their products called VoiceOver. Yes, it’s really me.

So back to our question of the day: is my cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen, available in accessible formats for the blind?

I had a long discussion back and forth with Rodale, the publishing house, about this matter since day one, before I’d even written a single recipe down. “It’s vital that my cookbook is accessible for the visually impaired. That’s a given. I can’t leave my biggest fan base in the dark (nyuk, nyuk generic name for xanax),” I’d said.

And so I was told by Rodale that they looked into all sorts of options, including publishing it in Braille or as an audio book. I was told Brailling quickly became too expensive, and they didn’t want to have to pass that price on to the consumer. I have no doubt, though, that my cookbook will one day be Brailled or recorded and made available for loan via the many resources for text-to-speech for the blind.

Currently, however, if you purchase a version for the Kindle, Nook, or from iBooks, These versions, I’ve been told, have audio capability so the text can be read aloud on their respective devices. The Kindle even recently came out with new features for the visually impaired.

Has anyone tried out any of these accessible formats of my cookbook? Your feedback is welcome. I will pass it along to Rodale.


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21 Discussion to this post

  1. Howdy,

    I have it on the Nook app for iOS and it reads fine. I expect it will read equally well with the Kindle append iBooks, both on iOS, because all of them use Voiceover and the standard Voiceover navigation commands for reading. One should be able to use a refreshable braille display also, but I haven't tried that yet. The trouble is, of course, that access is limited to nonexistent if you don't happen to have an iOS device. Kindle isn't accessible on Android, and neither native hardware reader (Kindle or Nook) has complete accessibility. Amazon's falls quite short, and B&N has none at all. While I expect both things to change at some point, they haven't yet. I'd really like to see a download in unprotected PDF at least, but understand publishers might be reluctant. Or could the publisher submit the book to Bookshare at ? I'm sure NLS will have it eventually, but no clue when that would be.

  2. jem says:

    I have the iBooks version. Voiceover seems to work, though it's only one line at a time, which can sound strange when it reads half a word. Do you turn off auto-hyphenation to work around that? I also tried the "Speak Selection" option from the Settings app accessibility menu. It was a smoother read, but I had to manually select every page.

    It does have problems with the measurements. It will get basic fractions correct, but it reads 1/8 as "eighteen" instead of one-eighth. In the Bombay flatbread recipe, it reads 2 3/4 cups as 'twenty-three slash-four cups all-purpose flour' and not 'two and three-quarter cups' like it should.

  3. @mwicDallas says:

    One of our clients is , which makes audio versions of books for the impaired. I've talked to my boss about you many times, and he would love to get you together with this organization. You can email me if interested

    • Christine Ha says:

      Thanks for this info. I'll have to get the pub house and production company involved as they own the copyright.

  4. Shannon says:

    The book is in processing at NLS now.

  5. Jason says:

    Christine, if you're really blind, how do you read Gordon Ramsay's tweets about the release date of the blind accessible version of your cookbook?

    (I'm not sure if that simplifies or convolutes things.)

  6. Grace Saria Madrid says:

    amazing! i was thinking how you type, but then i remembered back in highschool, our finals for Typing class was in blindfolds and we had to type Candle in the Wind Elton John song center-aligned!! 😀 i was so excited to get your cookbook that i bought one in amazon, then the week after i go to our local bookstore and find out it's also available there! haha. im still waiting for the cookbook to arrive next month coz i chose the 15-30 days shipping here to the Philippines. Anyways, good luck in your next endeavor! 😀 more power!

  7. JakeWesley7 says:

    Google Play Books also has a read aloud feature for ebooks downloaded and read through its app. I would also like to say that me and my boyfriend have been rooting for you since the first episode of Masterchef season 3. Love you so much, and you are an inspiration and a wonderful cook! This book will be on our shelf!

  8. Kim Hoa says:

    Hi Christine Ha. I was a fan of the food she loves that she cooked, I'd love to get her cookbook, but do not know when new in Vietnam anymore because I am also a Vietnam. Christine Ha sorry for my english which is not good.

    • Christine Ha says:

      Hello, and thanks for stopping by my blog. Currently, my cookbook is not available outside of the U.S. and Canada, though that may change, depending on the publishing house.

  9. Ashley V says:

    I couldn't help but notice in some of the comments a question about reading a whole page of text. A three finger swipe down will change pages, it does not read text. A two finger swipe down reads text from the point where you have highlighted text while a two finger swipe up will read the entire page from the beginning.
    I hope this helps.
    I am actually going to be starting a campaign to gain funding for a business where we have training modules for VoiceOver. I would love some feedback from anyone who is interested.

    • Christine Ha says:

      I would absolutely love this. I know the Apple store has training, but I don't have time to go there, not to mention I'd have to ask someone to take me there and back home. I've been asking my VR counselors for any Macbook Voiceover training, but sadly, there are none. I've tried the VO tutorial on my laptop, but it's tedious. If you can find a way to simplify…maybe it's a tall order, but I'm interested.

  10. Ashley V says:

    This training we have developed is something you can listen to at home that teaches basic skills in VoiceOver. It also teaches you how to use Safari, text messaging, mail, calendar and more on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. I see it being able to help a lot of people.

  11. kirstzD says:

    Need to buy this cookbook for my restaurants in laguna Philippines so that I have a lot of yummy dishes to offer. 🙂

  12. Pitu says:

    jessicaSeptember 24, 2012Oh, I am sorry that you miss those videos yes, I was denifitely torn about taking down that happy bday one to my friend! I guess it was just so specific to her, that I didn’t think it would have much universal appeal; plus, it was so um, rustic. You know, with my iphone taking it and stuff! And yes, this whole weekend has been gorgeous! Hope we have another pretty day tomorrow!

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