From Iceland — Audiobooks Inaccessible To Immigrants

Audiobooks Inaccessible To Immigrants

Published October 29, 2020

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Immigrants taking courses in Icelandic studies who wish to use audiobooks are unable to use the Audio Library, Fréttablaðið reported this morning. Under the current rules, the Icelandic Audio Library only serves those who are unable to use printed fonts, for example blind people. Any immigrant who wishes to use the library must submit an application. This must include a signed certificate with a professional diagnosis stating that they cannot use printed fonts.

“Difficulties with language are not seen as a difficulty with the printed word, and therefore those who are learning Icelandic do not fall under the law,” says Marín Guðrún Hrafnsdóttir, director of the Icelandic Audio Library. She added that the reason for the rules is to make audiobooks accessible to those who are unable to use other public libraries, adding that the library’s previous name was the Icelandic Library for the Blind. “It is right that libraries have the main duty and democratic role of facilitating access to information, and in order for the blind, visually impaired and dyslexic to have such access to books and information, the Library for the Blind was established. Then the name of the institution was changed to Hljóðbókasafn Íslands.”

It was recently stated in RÚV that nearly 4,000 Poles are currently on the unemployment register. Karolina Kryspowicka-Lisińska, one of these unemployed Poles, said in an interview that it was difficult to apply for jobs where perfect Icelandic was a requirement.

Many immigrants find it easier to learn from audiobooks than print books. However, the particular rules of the Icelandic Audio Library have been thought out and do not look set to change.

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