Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Kindle Books are Finally Made Accessible to People with Print Disabilities

Access to the written word for those of us with print disabilities has only continued to get better as technology has improved. Not that long ago, our community only had access to 5 percent of published material. Organizations like Bookshare and the Gutenberg Library project increased this number, but there were still so many books that remained out of reach. Once the IOS platform became accessible, the number of available books increased further with access to iBooks and recently the Nook collection from Barnes and Noble, but it was Amazon’s Kindle book collection that we were still waiting for. Many in our community thought that Amazon didn’t care, or didn’t want to make the effort, but last week they proved us wrong.

After reading about the update to the Kindle app, I immediately went and downloaded it from the app store. At some point in the past I had added “Treasure Island” to my Kindle book collection, so I opened it up and started reading. When you open a book, the menu will be off and voiceover will say, “to read continuously swipe down with two fingers or tap and hold to select text.” If you choose continuous reading, it will automatically change pages for you. You can also move to a specific chapter or page by activating the menu. To turn on the menu, double tap with one finger. The menu also allows you to go back to your list of books.

As many may remember, iBooks is one of the few apps that allow you to download books from within the app. With this in mind, you must use the Amazon website to get your books. Their website is easy to navigate on your IOS device, or you can also add books to your wish list using the Amazon app.

After testing out “Treasure Island” I decided to find other books to add. I searched for free books on the Amazon website and found thousands of options including books that were recently published. After downloading them, I went back into the app, selected settings and hit sync. This is something you’ll need to do every time you get a new book.

The final bit of happy news is that these books are also accessible with Braille displays. This is going to open up a whole new world to Braille readers. If you like your experience with iBooks you will like the Kindle’s new changes. Now we can only hope that the Kindle made by Amazon will also be accessible at some point in the future.

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