Amazon has announced that new technologies to help vision impaired consumers use the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD seven-inch tablets will be coming early next year. The new features are called Voice Guide and Explore by Touch. The accessibility features were previously available only on the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet.
These features will help vision impaired consumers to be able to more easily navigate the menus and content on the Kindle Fire seven-inch devices. Using this technology, visually impaired consumers will be able to enjoy books, audio books, and listen to music or easily. The larger Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet has had both Voice Guide and Explore by Touch features since it launched.
Amazon says that the Voice Guide featured uses technology from a company called IVONA, which is a leading text-to-speech software engine company. Using Voice Guide navigation, any action performed by the customer on the device is read aloud. When the tablet launches a book, the system announces the book title and the fact that the book has been opened.
The system is designed to provide immediate feedback to visually impaired users. The visually impaired users are also able to navigate the touchscreen using Explore by Touch. This mode allows consumers to swipe a finger across the touch screen and as they touch an item, the system will announce what has been tapped. A second tap on the item will perform whatever action that particular item executes. This feature would allow users to scroll across numerous books in their library, having the title read aloud to them on one touch, and then a second touch with open the book.