An Open Letter To Amazon Regarding Accessibility

I am a visuakindle app 2lly impaired person. That is something that I cannot change. Not yet anyway. I am a passionate educator who loves to read. I have an iPad, it reads to me when I need it to. I love to read books on it.

So I should also be able to enjoy the Kindle app as my sighted friends can. After all, having the Amazon library available to me would certainly expand my options. Don’t get me wrong Apple, the iBookstore has been great and it is growing. But the Kindle app will not work for those of us with visual impairments. So much for universal design.

I just purchased a new book on the iBookstore for $12.99. It is a book that I really wanted to read. Having just returned from the ISTE 2011 conference, I want to read Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules. It is on the Kindle app for $2.99, but it might as well be free, as it does me no good at all. And the audible copy is $24.99!

I did contact Amazon about this a few months ago and was told that if I wanted the text to speech option, I should buy a Kindle. Interesting. So because I have this disability, I need to spend more money. My chosen reading device, the iPad, will work with everyone else that uses the Kindle app, but not people, including kids , like me.

As IOS devices become part of everyday life in so many schools, why would Amazon not make their store accessible to all?  That certainly would not affect their bottom line.  And oh, yes, I know some publishers don’t want their books to be TTS enabled. And as you can imagine, I find this thinking very short-sighted (no pun intended). But why make the app not be compatible with voiceover on the iPad, and other IOS devices?

Sure, the entire visually impaired community could buy Kindles. But since we really want the TTS option, the rest of the great features on the device really aren’t that useful to the visually impaired. But TTS is. And the IOS devices allow us to access the web and all of the apps, check and send email, tweet, find directions, read train schedules, and check the baseball scores, read the news and so much more.

So Amazon, can you find it in your heart to make that app accessible to voice over? Most apps are these days. You see universal design for learning is a real and necessary concept. ibook on ipadTechnology is leveling the field for so many people with disabilities, and isn’t that what we want as a people?  I think it is just a few lines of code. Come on, make it happen.


I welcome comments. Thanks for stopping  by!

4 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Amazon Regarding Accessibility

  1. Ed,

    Greetings from WDW!

    I too have found this to be a huge problem. We have the iPad 1 for Neumann, and we have a student who is completely blind. Her phone speaks to her (not an iOS running machine, by the way!), we have JAWS installed at Neumann as well as Zoom Text. The state, however, will not purchase her an Apple computer which has 99% native accessibility tools in it, as I showed you and Denise has I’m sure since she’s a proud Mac owner. They WILL, however, by her a Dell, then spend $700+ on proper software for her. I asked Amazon the same thing for this student, because many of her required reading texts were found on the Amazon App. I think that, quite frankly, this could very well be taken up as a dispute of discrimination as found in the ADA. To be told you should in turn spend a minimum of 129 dollars more for a product that licenses the same software for another platform doesn’t seem right. In all honesty, I’d get in touch with the secretary of education and see of this is something that could be looked into.

    I have the contact information for our student disabilities liaison, I think it’s a good idea to connect with him and we move forward to see if something can actually be done about it. I’m all for post open letters, because sometimes they actually work. But we have the brains and the person-power to make a difference. Let me know if you’re in!

  2. Sean, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS! 2 great grads together. YOu can absolutely count me in. And I know that some of the droids have the talking feature. I am just an IOS guy! I do think that this is an ADA and IDEA issue. I am hoping that Amazon sees the post. Let me know if I can be of any help to that student as an advocate. It is the least that i can do.

    And we will be in WDW soon!

    Have fun and I wish you both years of happiness, peace, and loving kindness.

    Have a magical evening!

  3. John, thanks for stopping by. No, not so far. The post had a ton of views, but I guess none were from Amazon. And on this night when we lost Steve Jobs, I am grateful to Steve for his embracing of accessibility on Apple devices.

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