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.

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


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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