New Accessibility Features for Kindle E-Readers for Readers with Visual Impairments or Dyslexia
This is really exciting news!
Amazon has announced they are bringing VoiceView to their Kindle e-readers, starting with Kindle Paperwhite, so that customers with visual impairments can enjoy reading on Kindle devices.
Here's the word, straight from Amazon:
New Accessibility Features for Kindle E-Readers
Over the years, feedback from our customers with disabilities has been inspiring and humbling, as they tell us how they are using our products and the impact these products are having on their lives.
While developing VoiceView for Fire tablets, we were also working on bringing VoiceView to our Kindle e-readers. Kindle e-readers are beloved by our customers because they are purpose-built for reading and create a haven so customers can lose themselves in their books. We are excited to say that, today, we have brought VoiceView to our Kindle e-readers, starting with the Kindle Paperwhite, so that visually impaired customers can enjoy reading on our Kindle e-readers, too.
VoiceView for Kindle, which uses Amazon’s natural language text-to-speech voices (formerly known as IVONA) lets visually impaired customers read millions of Kindle books and navigate the Kindle Paperwhite via speech feedback. Like VoiceView on our Fire tablets, VoiceView for Kindle supports linear and touch navigation, and the same broad range of speech feedback rates and earcons. Likewise, we developed a tutorial with multiple lessons that users can return to at any time.
Visually impaired customers will be able to use VoiceView for Kindle with the new Kindle Audio Adapter—an Amazon-designed USB audio dongle—to connect headphones or speakers, which then allows the ability to listen to and navigate the user interface, in addition to listening to books. The Kindle Audio Adapter was designed specifically to be used with VoiceView for Kindle. U.S. customers can purchase a bundle of both the Kindle Audio Adapter with the Kindle Paperwhite, and VoiceView for Kindle will be available in the future with other Kindle e-readers as well. Customers who purchase this bundle will receive a credit back on their account to cover the cost of the Kindle Audio Adapter, so they won’t have to pay extra for accessibility.
We’ve also launched other features to enhance a customer’s reading experience. Based on customer feedback, we made a new font available on the latest generation Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Oasis, and the Kindle reading app in iOS—it’s an open source font option called OpenDyslexic. We also offer the ability to increase the font size of book text, adjust line spacing and margins, and change the format of the text. Kindle also includes a feature called Word Wise, which makes it easier to quickly understand more challenging books with short and simple definitions that automatically appear above difficult words so customers can keep reading with fewer interruptions. And Immersion Reading, available on Fire tablets as well as iOS and Android, is a powerful tool for young readers, students and readers with disabilities. It gives customers the option to read and listen to books simultaneously with real-time text highlighting. Customers can access this feature by adding professional Audible narration to over 70,000 Kindle titles.
Accessibility Features on Kindle for readers who are blind or dyslexic:
Kindle Audio Adapter
The Kindle Audio Adapter activates VoiceView on your Kindle e-reader when plugged into the Micro-USB port. Just plug your headphones or speakers into the audio jack on the Kindle Audio Adapter to use your e-reader with an audio interface.
VoiceView, powered by IVONA Text-to-Speech
Our new screen reader, VoiceView, provides spoken feedback to describe the actions that take place on your screen.
Explore content and navigate your Kindle e-reader using VoiceView’s accessibility gestures. You can navigate item-by-item as well as by touch.
Adjustable reading speed
Control how fast VoiceView speaks. The rate at which VoiceView feedback is spoken can be set to one of eight different speeds of your choice.
The VoiceView tutorial helps you master operating your Kindle e-reader.
Larger font sizes & user-requested OpenDyslexic font
Read easily by increasing the font size of book content on your Kindle e-reader. You can choose from eight font sizes as well as eight font faces including OpenDyslexic.
Spacing, margins, font, and brightness
Your Kindle also offers the ability to adjust line spacing and margins to format the text in a fashion that is comfortable to read. Unlike tablets, there is no screen glare, even in bright sunlight. Select Kindle e-readers have a built-in light with adjustable brightness to increase contrast and enable reading in the dark.
For the accessibility team, it’s still day one at Amazon. We have so much more planned, and the whole team is looking forward to the journey ahead."
Peter Korn is an Accessibility Architect at Amazon, serving the device and content businesses.
For more information on VoiceView for Kindle, as well as other recently launched features intended to enhance a customer’s reading experience, you can visit their website.
Lisa Lightner is a Chester County, PA mom of two. This post was adapted from the blog A Day in Our Shoes, which she co-authors. It provides support, resources and advocacy services for parents of children with special needs.