eBooks might be all the rage right now and rightfully so, though unfortunately those with physical disabilities could be deprived of all the benefits that the digital version of books can offer. There seems to be just not enough ebook readers out there that those users more pronounced forms of disabilities can make the most of.
“Consider people who want to read but have motor difficulties and aren’t able to easily turn the page of a book. Being able to just touch the screen or tap a button to move through a book is a fantastic breakthrough. That button could even be connected via Bluetooth and pressed by the nudge of a head or triggered by the blink of an eye. Think carefully before choosing your device, however, as by no means all of them offer this capability,” said Robin Christopherson a founding member of the UK based technology charity AbilityNet.
“Unless the ebook has been made accessible by the publisher and the device made accessible by the manufacturer, then the benefits can’t be enjoyed by the disabled user,” Christopherson, who himself is visually impaired, further added.
Manufacturers of ereaders seem least interested in promoting their devices among the disabled, something borne out by the recent attempts by Sony, Amazon, and Kobo to seek permanent exemption of ereaders from the Federal Accessibility Law. The companies argued that they manufacture devices that just display text and therefore should not be included under the federal law which makes it mandatory for advanced communication services to be accessible to the disabled. (FCC is seeking comments on this until September 3, 2013).
With the present crop of ebook reading devices, Robin believes it is the Apple iPad that seems most suited for use by the disabled.
“Personally, I think that i-devices such as iPads and iPhones are the most accessible to the broadest possible audience, and they too have good ebook reading software already installed as well as being able to run Kindle software,” said Christopherson, while adding that the Kindle range of ereaders lacks accessibility features.
“As a great starting point, I would recommend the RNIB website page, which outlines the various devices and their features that are out there,” Robin further suggested.