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Search results for the Tag keyword: Kindle
By Stuart Aitken on Thursday 2nd May, 2013 at 4:41pm
May Day brought a nice surprise for Kindle readers who use the app on their iOS. Now Kindle books can be read using text-to-speech on an iPad, iPhone or iPod. Before this update its always been a bit frustrating for readers of Kindle books to find that there was no way to listen to their collection on an iPad. Blind and visually impaired people who already had purchased Kindle books found that if they downloaded their Kindle books to an iPad it wasnt possible to use the built-in features offered by VoiceOver. It wasnt even possible to use the Speak Selection feature to select a word or chunk of text to have it read out. Now it is possible to use VoiceOver (not Speak Selection though).
Kindle Reader uses VoiceOver so if you want to use Kindles text-to-speech functions VoiceOver needs to be installed and running. To do this go to:
Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > On.
VoiceOver is designed to allow blind and visually impaired people to access iOS So when it is running you activate apps in a slightly different way than the standard iOS approach. Mostly this involves a double tap instead of single tap (which makes sense, after all a blind or visually impaired person will want to check the right app is selected (single tap), before activating that app (double tap). Thereafter, use of text-to-speech is pretty straightforward and quite powerful.
- In Kindle Library with VoiceOver on, tap once on a book to have full spoken information about each title, author and whether the book is installed. Double tap to open the book and start reading from where you left off.
- Use a two finger swipe down to start continuous reading from top of page.
- Use a single two finger tap while reading to pause. Two finger tap once again to resume.
- Single finger tap selects a line of text and reads under the finger. (Like Speak Selection only it gives context too.) Single finger tap anywhere to read that line. Two finger tap to return to library.
- Suppose you are in single line reading at a time (e.g. for meaning), and you want to return to continuous reading. Simply do a two finger swipe down to resume continuous reading.
- Three finger swipe right to left to move to next page, or left to right to go to previous page.
All of these options are clearly spoken out.
What does it allow you to read?
Kindle titles will work. However, Word documents, PDF documents will not offer text-to-speech (many other apps do offer this functionality).
The big advantage is in being able to read your Kindle formatted books using text-to-speech.
Can you use other voices?
While t is not at all obvious how to do it is still possible to change the voice used in text-to-speech with the Kindle. The secret is to think about how you would give access to this facility to a blind or visually impaired person. You would do it from within VoiceOver. Heres how to do it using the Language Rotor.
Setup is atwo stage process. First, you set up the languages you want to make available from within VoiceOver. Second with Voiceover activated, select the languages from the rotor you previously set up.
Turn on voices to be selected from in Language Rotor.
General > Settings > Accessibility > Language Rotor (below Rotor)
Tap to select each of the languages you want to use as options – e.g. US English, British English, Irish English.
Tap VoiceOver (at top of screen) to come out of Language Rotor.
Now you will want to select the chosen language or dialect. You do this with VoiceOver On.
- Turn on VoiceOver as before General > Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > On
- Launch Kindle with VoiceOver On.
- Tap and rotate two fingers on the screen clockwise to turn on Rotor and the command available is spoken. (e.g. Characters, Words, Line etc.)
- Repeat the movement until it says Language – youre ready now.
- Do a one finger slide down, it will speak out the first voice you selected as an option. Repeat the rotor action until you reach the dialect or voice that you want. That is now selected.
Now Apple if we could only have the Scottish Voices available from within the Languages available not just in the apps but across the whole system. That would be great!
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By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 16th January, 2013 at 1:51pm
I got myself a Kindle Fire HD earlier this week as it is hard to respond to inquiries about a piece of equipment that we haven't seen. Interestingly, Amazon could not deliver until the middle of February so I got one from our local branch of Argos for the same price - sometimes it pays to shop local!
The Kindle Fire (bottom left in the photo), with a 7" screen is roughly the same size as the old keyboard Kindle (bottom right), just a fraction wider), but it is nearly twice as heavy. It is significantly smaller and lighter than the iPad (top). The display has a very decent resolution (1,280 x 800 pixels) and is clear and sharp.
The onscreen keyboard is as good as most others and works in either portrait or landscape orientation, with white lettering on black keys. There is built-in word rediction, with predicted words appearing in a row above the keyboard.
Reading eBooks on the Kindle Fire
The Kindle Fire can access the same Kindle library as other Kindle devices, but the colour screen makes children's picture books much more inviting. Some picture books have been provided with 'popups', enlarging small passages of text in a box with a cream background, using a standard, slightly enlarged, serif font to replace the various more graphical fonts used in picture books. Unfortunately, in the book I tried ('Twas the Night Before Christmas') it was not possible to further enlarge this text, or have it read out loud by the Kindle. I could not find any books in the Picture Book section of the Amazon Shop which claimed to be 'speech enabled'.
Books made up primarily of text can be read the same way as in earlier Kindles, with options to change line spacing, style and size of the text. Six fonts are available. Given that that the more 'traditional' Kindles available from Amazon (basic Kindle and Paperwhite) no longer provide text to speech support for reading eBooks, I was particularly keen to see how this performed on the Kindle Fire. To turn speech on, simply tap on the screen to bring up the Menu and choose Settings, then turn Text-to-Speech on. Tap again and press the Play icon at the bottom left of the screen to listen to the speech. Speech quality is better than on the earlier Kindles, but still isn't great.
I was disappointed to find that Immersion Reading is not yet available in the UK. This has been introduced for Kindle readers in the USA, allowing people to link their Kindle eBook to an audio book downloaded from Audible.com. Books can be read with a human voice (generally the author, or an actor), with text highlighted on screen as the words are spoken. When I tried to find out whether this would become available for the UK, the response from Amazon Support was somewhat cryptic: "We've made no announcement about implementing Immersion Reading in the UK, so unfortunately I can't answer your question."
What else does the Kindle Fire have?
The Kindle Fire HD has a dual-band Wi-Fi connection, which I have found to be pretty fast. The web browser is OK, but pretty basic, without any facilities for improving accessibility. You can connect to email, Facebook and Twitter accounts
Though the Kindle Fire uses the Android operating system, you are restricted to using apps available from the Amazon App Store. There's a good selection of mainstream apps available, many of which are free, but there's a shortage of the more specialist apps. Anybody looking for a budget communication aid will be disappointed.
The Kindle Fire has a built-in front facing HD video camera, aimed primarily at people using video chat - it can be used to take photographs, but it is awkward as you cannot see what you are taking a picture of.
Although it isn't documented, it is possible to take a screenshot of the Kindle screen by simultaneously pressing the Lower Volume and Power buttons. This can be tricky as it is easy to get it slightly wrong and just get the Volume Bar, or the Shut Down menu on screen.
The Fire can be connected to an external display, e.g. a data projector, by means of a micro HDMI cable (not supplied, but very cheap)
Basically, I like the Fire - screen quality is good, it is portable and has access to a wide range of facilities. Some tasks are pretty fiddly (like taking a screenshot) and I was a bit disappointed with the text-to-speech quality - and the absence of Immersion Reading, but overall I was pretty impressed, especially as it only cost £159.
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By Allan Wilson on Friday 3rd February, 2012 at 12:20pm
Most people who use a Kindle simply download the books they want from the Amazon web site. But what can you do if you want to read something else on your Kindle? The Kindle recognises Kindle (.azw), Text (.txt) and Mobi (.mobi) files and can also view (but not read out) PDFs. It cannot currently handle E-Pub files, so if the book or resource you are looking for is only available in E-Pub format, you need to convert it, using a program such as Calibre.
Calibre is a free eBook management program that you can download from the Calibre web site. It is a very comprehensive program that allows you to search for and download eBooks from the internet, view them and manage your collection. It also allows you to convert between the various file formats used by different eBook readers, so that you can read your eBook on, for example, a Kindle. Calibre also allows you to download online editions of newspapers and magazines from all around the world.
Some aspects of Calibre are a little quirky and it does not have built-in text-to-speech, though it links well with free TTS programs, such as NaturalReader and Ivona Minireader. Nevertheless, it is a very useful program for anybody using digital books.
CALL have now produced a Quick Guide to Using Calibre to Read E-Books and Convert E-Pub Files for the Kindle, which can be downloaded from the Quick Guide section of the CALL web site, under Books for All.
More 'Books for All' Quick Guides
More than 30 further Quick Guides are available in this section covering many different aspects of finding and adapting books for learners with a print disability. Titles include:
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By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 31st May, 2011 at 12:57pm
The Kindle for PC Accessibility Plugin is now available for UK customers (and also for users in Australia, Canada and the U.S.). Kindle for PC is free software for reading Kindle eBooks on your Windows PC. The main feature of the new plugin is a text-to-speech tool which means that blind, visually impaired and severely dyslexic readers can listen to the book being read out by the computer. Kindle for PC Accessibility plugin has:
- Text-to-speech reading with adjustable voice settings
- Voice-guided menu navigation
- Large font sizes
- High contrast reading mode
- Keyboard navigation
- Accessible shortcuts
The Kindle reader software can be used to read out the text of the book, and blind readers can use Jaws or NVDA to read the menus and navigation instructions.
The software comes with two American voices - one male and one female - which are OK but not as good as Heather, for example. You can start, pause and stop the speech and read the current, previous or next sentences (see the list of shortcuts below). You can't use other voices on your computer with the Kindle software, and it doesn't highlight the text as it reads.
Like the standard Kindle reader, the font size can be massive (up to about 90pt), and you can change the colours (white on black, black on white, black on sepia).
For keyboard only users, there are keyboard shortcuts to navigate around the software and the eBooks.
The new Kindle reader is a significant step towards making commercial eBooks accessible for readers with print disabilities. There are now over 700,000 books available from the Amazon UK website and so it's a huge source of digital books.
I've updated our Kindle Quick Guide with the new features and you can now download it.
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By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 16th March, 2010 at 10:36am
eBooks have been around for some years now without making much impact but recently there has been a lot more buzz about them. There are a lot of interesting possibilities with eBooks for people with print disabilities but the main one is access to books: if accessible eBooks could be purchased direct from a publisher then we would no longer have to contact the publisher to ask for a digital copy and wait while they find it, or rely on someone somewhere scanning the book into a digital format. For this to happen, we need accessible eBook readers and accessible eBooks.
The first eBook readers left a lot to be desired in terms of accessibilty, but the new Kindle devices (particularly the larger Kindle DX) looks more interesting. Amazon have been under pressure to improve the accessibility of the Kindle - for example the United States Justice Deptartment has agreed that three Universities will not buy or recommend the Kindle unless it is fully accessible.
On the new Kindle DX, it seems the text size can be up to about 20 point, and Kindle claim they are going to add a new font in the summer which will double this size (i.e. 40 point). Of course the Kindle can also read the text out using text-to-speech software: the voice is provided by Nuance and so it should be quite good (albeit American). A major limitation is that it can only read 'unprotected' eBooks, and most of the commercial books are protected to prevent them being copied. RNIB and others are lobbying for publishers to find a way to protect their interests and also make their books accessible, so we hope to see an improvement here.
The new Apple iPad also looks interesting because Apple says it can read out eBooks using 'VoiceOver', the iPad screen reader, and you can change the text size and also the font. We don't know yet if it will be able to read commercial eBooks, or if this function will be restricted, like the Kindle. To read more about the iPad accessibility features go to the iPad features web page on accessibility.
So it looks like things are moving fast in the world of accessible eBooks.
If you want to keep up to date with developments I recommend Denise Dwyer's Print for People blog. Denise is a Development Officer with RNIB and her blog is a really helpful up-to-date summary of accessibility developments in the publishing world.