Audible menus will unlock Kindle for the blind
Tuesday 08 December 2009
Amazon.com will add two features to the Kindle e-book reader to make the gadget more accessible to blind and vision-impaired users.
Monday's announcement comes a month after Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison said they would not consider widely deploying the device as an alternative to paper textbooks until Amazon makes it easier for blind students to use.
Both universities bought some Kindles to test this year.
The Kindle has a read-aloud feature that could be a boon to blind students and those with other disabilities including dyslexia, but turning it on requires navigating through screens of text menus.
Amazon said it is working on audible menus, which would let the Kindle speak menu options out loud. It's also working on an extra-large font for people with impaired vision. The additions should reach the Kindle next summer, US time, Amazon said.
Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, said Monday that the organisation doesn't know enough about the new features to say whether they adequately address concerns of the blind community. But, he said, it's a good sign Amazon is expressing commitment to improve the Kindle.
Amazon released this year the Kindle DX, a large-screen model aimed at textbook and newspaper readers. Several colleges including Arizona State University are testing the gadget this academic year and sending feedback to the company.
The federation for the blind, which is based in Baltimore, teamed up with another advocacy group, the American Council of the Blind, to sue Arizona State in an attempt to block it from using the Kindle as a way to distribute electronic textbooks because the devices can't be used by blind students.
It also filed complaints with the Justice Department against five other schools participating in the Kindle trial with Amazon: Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, Pace University in New York, Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, and Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin were not among the pilot-test schools.
Danielsen declined to comment when asked if Amazon's proposed changes would lead the federation to abandon its complaints.
Life & Style blogs
iPhone 6 will function as 'mobile wallet' following Apple deal with Visa - reports
Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
Is Apple's iCloud safe after leak of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities' nude photos?
David Sedaris: What I learnt from Fitbit about the world around me
Reader dilemma: My wife only wants to have sex when she's drunk
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...
£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...
£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Power & Gas Business Analyst/Subject Ma...
£600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...