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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Tuning In to Amazon’s Accessible Fire TV

Date: 9/14/2016

Amazon has brought their VoiceView touch screen reader to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite using their new Audio Adapter. The company has also taken screen accessibility another step further with the release of VoiceView Over Bluetooth on Kindle (8th Generation, which enables VoiceView access over a Bluetooth speaker or pair of earbuds and costs less than the Paperwhite to boot.

Now company developers have also added a preview version of VoiceView. The $49.99 Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote. This device is similar in function to the Apple TV. The Fire TV is a set top device that enables streaming of both audio and video content through a television’s HDMI port. Most flat screen TVs include at least one HDMI port; most include multiple. It comes in three versions. The VoiceView preview was included in a recent over-the-air software update, so if you already have a Fire TV, the chances are good that it has been updated to the latest version. To check, simply press and hold down the Back and Menu keys located at opposite ends of the top row of three buttons for a few seconds to start VoiceView. Brand new Fire TV owners will require sighted help to set up the unit, because it requires an update to the latest software, which may not come preinstalled on your device.

You can use an Amazon Fire TV running VoiceView to accessibly purchase and play movies, TV shows, music, and other content directly from Amazon or play content already in your Amazon library. Amazon Prime members also have access to Prime Video and Prime Music. You can also use Alexa commands by beginning your inquiry by speaking the name "Alexa," such as, "Alexa, what's the weather?" Or "Alexa, play the Beatles." Basically, purchasing a Fire TV with Voice Remote is a bit like getting many features of the Amazon Tap, which we reviewed in the May 2016 issue of AccessWorld for free.

Is your Fire TV "ready for prime time?" If so, or if you are considering buying one, check out the September issue of AccessWorld for a complete product evaluation.

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