This post concerns the new Amazon Kindle (currently retailing on their website for £89) and highlights the inaccessibility of the Kindle to blind people who are not able to read print.
In December 2010 I received, as a Christmas present an Amazon Kindle. I am blind and unable to read print, however the device I received possesses a text to speech facility which allows me to listen to titles, purchased from the Kindle Store which have text to speech enabled. In addition my Kindle has a voiceover menu which assists me in navigating around the device by, for example enabling me to choose titles which I have purchased and downloaded. While my Kindle is by no means fully accessible it does possess a number of features which make it a useful purchase for visually impaired people.
In 2011 Amazon announced the launch of their new Kindle which can be purchased from the company’s website for £89. Great I thought Amazon have reduced the price making the Kindle more afordable for everyone including those who are visually impaired. However on checking the product’s page I could find no mention of either the text to speech facility or of voiceover menus. I contacted Amazon who responded by stating that the new Kindle is, indeed not accessible but that the Kindle 3g keyboard to which they provided a link does possess both text to speech and voiceover menus.
Having checked out the Amazon website it is the case that the 3g Kindle keyboard is accessible, however the cost is £149 (considerably more expensive than the £89 Kindle). While the 3g Kindle does possess advantages over the cheaper version (for instance the ability to download books practically anywhere) it is, in my opinion a great shame that Amazon have not incorporated accessibility features into the company’s cheaper Kindle. Those who are blind and unable to read print even with the aid of magnification will be forced (if they want a Kindle) to purchase the more expensive device while those who are not visually impaired will have a choice of Kindles. There is an accessible version of the Kindle for PCs but a PC does not possess the portability of the Kindle (you don’t want to lug your PC with you on the train, well I don’t)! I very much hope that Amazon will reconsider it’s decision and make the cheaper Kindle fully accessible. For the accessible Kindle please visit the following link http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002LVUWFE
(please note, the accessible Kindle which I own is now to my knowledge difficult to obtain).