Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Get It Right

I’ve written before, here and here, about the Kindle and how it is not accessible for people who are blind. So, I was really pleased to read that both Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have both rejected the Kindle as a replacement for textbooks. And their main reason for the rejection – the Kindle is not accessible for students who are blind.

The Kindle does have a text-to-speech feature, but I know from using my son’s Kindle that not everything can take advantage of that feature. The National Federation of the Blind, a group that is applauding the decision of Syracuse and the University of Madison-Wisconsin, said last week that while it appreciates the text-to-speech feature, the “menus of the devices are not accessible to the blind..making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions on the Kindle DX.

And add to that the fact that many authors and publishers are intentionally disabling the text-to-speech feature on their electronic books.

It saddens me that we have such a remarkable piece of technology and some of the most basic merits of that technology are not being utilized or allowed.

Amazon, it’s time you took another look at this device and your policies regarding people with disabilities. It is a brave new world and you need to embrace that fact, not work against it.

Today I am thankful for all the technology that does enrich the lives of people with disabilities


Alessandra said...

I know loads of students a bit annoyed that it’s still hard to find many sites or publishers that offer (proper) textbooks to use on an eReader…come on, its 2009, why are we still using those heavy things that go out of date by the time they go to and cost over a hundred bucks?

While I was Googling for “download textbooks” the other week I found the site www.bookboon.com I went on the site and found that they publish a huge range of textbooks - and every single textbook is made available to download free of charge! I downloaded a few in the pdf e-book format that they come in and they work perfectly on my Kindle DX

I also noticed that they have a facebook app, so you can also get all the textbooks for free from facebook, the link is http://apps.facebook.com/bookboon/

Corrie Howe said...

Have you written Kindle about some of the features which don't work? Maybe they'll ask for your input on future updates?