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for the Blind

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The Latest Amazon Kindle: Lighting a Fire of Outrage

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I have written several articles in AFB's AccessWorld Magazine chronicling the lack of accessibility of Amazon's Kindle electronic book reading devices as they have evolved over the last few years. The original Kindle was completely inaccessible to blind people, and our community protested loudly and clearly. Amazon responded by adding some text-to-speech functionality to the second and third versions. Although that still did not lead to what I would call an accessible Kindle, the incremental improvements did give us some hope for the future.

Unfortunately, that appears to have been wasted hope as Amazon recently announced the impending release of the new Kindle Fire. The Fire is a touch-screen version of their popular device, and I understand that this version will again be completely inaccessible to blind people. To be blunt, I am absolutely disgusted with Amazon, as they apparently have no shame. They have no excuse in this day and age, as it has already been proven by Apple that a touch screen tablet can be made accessible. Amazon knows very well that we expect equal access to their devices, and they turned their backs on us once again. It is simply outrageous that Amazon and others who create many of today's electronic books also create barriers for millions of potential customers who are blind.

For people with vision loss eager to read, I recommend ebooks from Apple's iBooks app on the iPhone/Pod/Pad. Bookshare is also a great resource.

There are currently 2 comments

Re: The Latest Amazon Kindle: Lighting a Fire of Outrage

Update on the new Kindles:

I am an intern at the AFB Tech product lab, and we just received the Kindle 4 for test the accessibility. This is the least expensive Kindle without a keyboard or touchscreen. It turns out that the Kindle 4 is not accessible to blind people. There is no headphone jack, speaker, or any option for speech output.

The Kindle touch reportedly will have these features and we will be testing that unit when it launches in November.

Re: The Latest Amazon Kindle: Lighting a Fire of Outrage

I am blind and received a Kindle, as a Christmas present in December 2010. I like the text to speech facility and the spoken menus. I was therefore concerned to read that the latest version of the Kindle is, apparently inaccessible. Is there an update on this matter please? My present device is working well. I am, however concerned regarding how I will cope when the Kindle I own gives up the ghost and I have to purchase a replacement (obviously I require an accessible model).

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