I am a visually 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. Technology 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.
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