Amazon making Kindle Fire more accessible via voice, touch controls

Amazon making Kindle Fire more accessible via voice, touch controls

Summary: Amazon is expanding support for two important accessibility features to its entire Kindle Fire series.

TOPICS: Amazon, Mobility, Tablets

Amazon is making strides to make its entire Kindle Fire tablet series more accessible to all consumers with expanded support for two very important features.

The two features in question are the Voice Guide and Explore by Touch navigation tools. The goals behind these features is to both help vision-impaired Kindle owners read books more easily and aide those with learning disabilities to improve their reading skills.

Leveraging technology from text-to-speech software provider Ivona, the Voice Guide can read aloud menus and actions happening on the device, such as when a particular title has been opened or closed.

Explore by Touch is an alternative navigation method in which users can swipe a finger across the touchscreen and as he or she touches an item, the system will announce out loud which item has been selected. A second tap on the item will perform the default action on the item (i.e. opening or closing the book or magazine).

Both of these features were already supported by the 8.9-inch edition of Kindle Fire HD when it launched, and they will be added to the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7" by early next year.

These advanced accessibility features could further distinguish Amazon in both the tablet and e-reader spaces.

Up until now, most of the features already available for vision-impaired readers and those with learning disabilities on all Kindle Fire devices are actually fairly basic and common across e-readers from mulitple vendors, such as simultaneous read-alongs with the synchronized text and large font sizes for low vision.

Topics: Amazon, Mobility, Tablets

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  • Getting better

    Kindle Fire just keeps getting better everyday.
  • Sadly, not really

    The only functionality Amazon made "Accessible" thus far in the Fire tablets is slightly less than equivalent to those available in the Keyboard. Namely, a user can start and stop a book reading from the beginning, with no consistent option for navigating the text. this navigation is similar to navigating a pre-recorded cassette tape, and the settings menu. This is not true accessibility. A cook cannot double check the number of eggs in a recipe, a student cannot spell oxymoron, and a Linux user cannot verify the syntax of the fsck command they need to perform.

    Furthermore, blind users can't access the e-mail, magazines, audiobooks, content store, and Internet browser in the device, nor the table of.contents of their ebook.

    Pardon me for not lauding Amazons efforts, but despite some rough edges, Google Nexus, Apple iPad, and Microsoft Surface are all doing it better. (Coincidentally, all of these platforms contain Kindle apps without even this rough "accessibility" though accessible e-readers exist for most of these platforms.).
  • And with Microsoft starting development

    Of true motion, voice, touch control everything else is just a smoke screen; either you have it or you don't.
  • Does this mean...

    that the Kindle Fire will finally be able to read books to you? If so, this would be a great thing, if not, well I suppose you can't have everything.