Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Gove Vanity Bible - Accessibility Update

In the latest wave of complaint to arise over Michael Gove's Bible (or the MGB, as I feel we should now call it), it has been pointed out that the Bible he's sending out has small print and very thin pages.

Well, naturally. That's to keep the cost and size down. Bible-readers have long been used to this. It's the compromise required to make what is a rather large book available in a format that fits neatly into a woman's handbag or man's inner jacket pocket (or vice-versa, according to choice).

I suppose the alternative would have been to send out those massive Bibles you get in old churches, but I'm sure even Mr Gove's sponsors would have baulked at the thought of also having to send every school in the country a lectern in the shape of an eagle and a large chain, to complete la toute ensemble. So you get the economy version, and nobody will read it.

I mean, let's be clear here. In many respects, it is a truly equal-opportunity Bible. Those that can read won't read it, those with special needs won't read it. Those with dyslexia will get as much out of it as those without. Those who read best on a pale green background (the words, that is, not the readers) will benefit just as much as those who only read red text on a black background. Frankly, those with no arms will turn the pages as much as the able-bodied.  Nobody's going to read it. In practically no time at all it will be in a school tea-chest, whiling away the decades with the photograph of the Bedfordshire Schools Quiz Team 1981 and Fotherington-Thomas's wilting bunch of flowers from the Jubilee party.

Someone from the Department of Education has been very keen to assure us they are supporting those with reading and sight difficulties by "providing digital versions of texts so schools could adapt them for use by making the print larger, changing colours of text or backgrounds for dyslexic pupils, or changing them to audio files".  Let me save the Government some money. There are digital versions of the King James Version, should you really want to struggle with the language, here, here and here. If you want the option of reading other, more comprehensible versions, you can go to the Bible Gateway. You can make your browser text settings bigger or smaller according to choice. You can play it with Narrator or some other suitable screen-reading software. You can copy and paste it into a word-processor and convert it to Wingdings, if that's your font of choice.

The King James Bible is one of the great triumphs of faith and the English language. It's a shame it's turned into a football.


  1. Ahhh, dear old Fotherington-Thomas! I wondered what had become of him!

    1. After going around like an utter weed and saying "hello clouds, hello sky" he joined the Bullingdon Club at Oxford and is now a junior minister chiz chiz.

  2. No! Surely even Fotherington-Thomas wouldn't be crass enough to join the Bullington Club. He'd join the Birdwatching Society - Hello sparrows! Hello swallows! Hello Buzzards being shot by Tories!

  3. I wonder if Michael Gove has had a brain transplant? Because he is in league with Richard Dawkins who heartily approves of the initiative to put Bibles into schools. Off course, Dawkins motives are quite different. He hopes that everyone will read it, consider it to be a fairy story on a par with Snow White and lose any sense of faith they might attain.

    Whereas, Michael Gove's motives are purely mercenary. He is trying to appeal to the average pensioner who had the benefit of Sunday School, who had traditionally voted Tory, but left them floundering and having to co-habit with the Lib-Demolition party. Sadly, most of his target audience are now taking their part in the Glory, while the remainder, having been to spec-savers are now able to read the KJV very well.


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl