Amazon will be bringing new accessibility features to the Kindle Fire HD 7 and Kindle Fire in 2013. The company will be unleashing “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” to assist vision-impaired Kindle owners in enjoying books more easily and for those with learning disabilities to improve their reading skills.
Voice Guide technology utilizes elements found in IVONA, one of the leading text-to-speech software engine companies. IVONA delivers world-class pronunciations to read aloud menus with Voice Guide and books with text-to-speech for Kindle Fire tablets.
Voice Guide Navigation is one of the most exciting new features that should make a huge difference in the lives of people with vision problems. Basically, any action you employ from navigating menus to opening books will be read aloud. Let’s say you tap on an ebook from the library, the system will then announce the book title and the fact that it has been opened, saying “The Hunger Games. Book opened.” You can then use traditional Amazon Text to Speech functionality to have the book read aloud to you.
All of these new features will be implemented in the Kindle Fire 2012 model and the Kindle Fire HD 7. The Kindle Fire 8.9 already has the majority of these elements available right now. Hopefully, these two things will prove useful to those who need it, and provide a satisfactory fulfillment of the National Federation of the Blind’s requests. Earlier today, the National Federation of the Blind staged an informal protest at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters to highlight accessibility issues with the Kindle lineup.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.