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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Amazon Kindle App Shows Improved Accessibility

Darren Burton
As readers of AFB’s AccessWorld magazine, you may know I have written several articles over the years condemning the lack of accessibility found in Amazon Kindle devices. A couple of the devices have had some half-baked accessibility solutions, and the mobile apps have never been accessible or usable at all. However, yesterday we learned Amazon’s new update for the Kindle app for Apple’s iOS mobile platform has improved accessibility for people with vision loss.
We took a quick look at it on an iPhone 5 in our AFB Tech product evaluation labs this morning, and although there are still some things needing improvement, it is definitely a significant improvement over the previously inaccessible apps.
We downloaded a handful of books, and we were able to access the print content of each of them. You can read the text of a book in several ways, including reading continuously, by page, by line, by word and by character. Several other tools are also accessible, including the Go To Page tool and the icon indicating your current page and location. If you have low vision, you can change the contrast from black on white to white on black, and you can increase the font size. We found the bookmarking, highlighting and annotation features to be partially accessible, and we had mixed success with the table of contents of one book we tested. We have yet to come upon any accessible graphics, and that will definitely be a concern going forward, especially for textbooks.
Although they are a few years late to the party, we at AFB are certainly happy that Amazon did eventually get around to taking advantage of the built-in accessibility of the Apple iOS platform. Now, Amazon can keep the ball rolling by improving the accessibility of their Kindle and Kindle Fire tablet devices.
Stay tuned to AccessWorld magazine for a full evaluation in the June issue.

AccessWorld® is the American Foundation for the Blind's technology magazine.

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1 comment:

John Tailor said...

Wonder full comment field needs a little work - wakeboarding.