On 22 January I blogged regarding my experiences, as a blind person in getting to grips with my Ipod (4th Generation), for that post please visit the following link http://kevin-morris.co.uk/2012/01/22/my-new-ipod/.
The Apps Store which can be found on “I” devices such as the Ipod Touch and the Ipad offers thousands of Apps ranging from easy access to the BBC’s news feeds to applications which permit the user to access radio stations from arround the globe. I have downloaded a number of apps, however one of the applications I was most keen to try out is Apple’s Ibook application. Ibooks is a free app which allows the user to read books downloaded onto compatible “I” devices such as the Ipod Touch and the Ipad.
I new (having done some research prior to downloading Ibooks) that the app supports Voiceover (Apple’s screen reader which allows blind people to use Apple’s products), however I wanted to try a free title to ascertain just how accessible the app is prior to purchasing content. Being in the mood for something racey I purchased the Ipod Touch User’s Guide for a grand total of £0. You can imagine that I was on the edge of my seat as I activated the reading of said title, indeed I fully intended to read this fascinating tome from cover to cover in one sitting so excited was I!
Once I’d downloaded the User Guide I performed a two-fingered swipe from the top of the screen which activates continuous reading mode. The user can pause reading at any point by touching the screen and restart by performing the same two-fingered swipe from the top of the screen. The Ipod (or whatever “I” device is being used) will remember your place in the book and you can turn the device off safe in the knowledge that, on reopening Ibooks you can resume reading from where you left off.
The Voiceover on my Ipod is of very high quality and I’ve experienced no difficulties in comprehending what is being read. From time to time continuous reading mode will stop for no discernible reason and I’ve had to perform another two-fingered swipe to reactivate it. However these interruptions do not happen on a frequent basis and having to restart continuous reading did not spoil my rapture at reading about the operations of my Ipod!
You can skip forward and back in a book by performing a swipe from right to left or vice versa, however I have found this method rather hit and miss. In my experience Ibooks is best (from a blind person’s perspective) for reading books, such as novels from start to finish. Indeed having experienced the sheer bliss of the Ipod User Guide I soon moved on to reading the complete Sherlock Holmes (not as exciting I grant you as the Ipod User Guide but, then again a change is as good as a rest)!
In addition to my Ipod I also own a Kindle which has a text to speech facility enabling visually impaired people to listen to content purchased from the Amazon Kindle Store. With the Ipod it is possible for a blind person to purchase books directly from the Ibook Store while using the device, however to the best of my knowledge a blind person needs to use a PC to purchase Kindle content (this is, however no great chore as content bought can be tranfered, wirelessly from a PC to the Kindle extremely rapidly). Unlike the I.
I’d recommend both Ibooks and the Kindle to blind people, however it should be noted that the cheaper Kindle (£89) does not possess text to speech so a visually impaired person should buy the more expensive model which retails, I believe at £149.
While an app can be downloaded, from Apple’s App store which allows Kindle content to be read on an “I” device, the app is, unfortunately not compatible with voiceover so blind people are better off reading Kindle content either on a Kindle which supports text to speech or, alternatively on the accessible Kindle for PC app. pod which performs many and varied functions Amazon’s Kindle is, purely a reading device but is none the worst for that.
As regards the quality of Apple’s Voiceover when compared to the voice on Amazon’s Kindle, there is, in my view very little, if any difference in the quality of the voices