Editorials/Opinion Pieces

Kindle PC App Accessibility Review

I stumbled upon this information a while ago.  I did so because I was looking into getting a Kindle tablet, and in my research, I was linked podcasts talking about Kindle accessibility.  I’m not sure how long ago this happened, but the Kindle for PC app works seamlessly with the NVDA screen reader – a free screen reader for PC, and the one I’ve used for years.  This was super refreshing, so I figured I’d download it and give it a go.  There’ve been too many times where something has been said to be accessible, and it was a lot harder to get working after actually trying it.  I’m all for trying new things, but it does get frustrating when you think something will be just out of the box accessible, and it’s harder to use than originally stated.  Sometimes I try anyway, sometimes I give up – but the fact that that’s even a problem in itself gets a little annoying a lot of the time.  Just a fact of being blind, but hopefully it changes in the future with companies like Amazon and Apple putting their best feet forward.

 

Now, how does Kindle for PC work with NVDA?  Why, seamlessly!  I honestly was pleasantly surprised to find that after I figured out I was trying a non-text to speech enabled book, and got one that was text to speech enabled, that it indeed worked just like you were browsing a webpage.  Kindle had a basic accessibility feature before, but in order to read you had to use this really annoying Windows Narrator voice to do so.  I couldn’t bare it, never tried to use it to read a book after just not being able to take the voice.

 

With the Kindle for PC and NVDA accessibility however, you’re using the voice you’re accustomed to using while doing everything else on the computer.  I read fanfics with this voice, so needless to say it was so nice to be able to read books with the voice I’m used to, at my own pace.

 

While I like Audible Books, sometimes, the narrator of a book makes me not want to read the book.  Nothing against the narrator, but some voices just don’t gel with me like other voices.  Audio books are a lot more expensive also, so unless you want to subscribe to Audible monthly, you’d be spending upwards of 20 to 30 dollars per book.  On Audible’s PC app, you can’t speed up the book, so you’re stuck reading at whatever pace the book is set.

I like my audio books, don’t get me wrong, but it is nice to have the option of reading an ebook if I don’t feel like having the audio version.  I can read Kindle books at my own pace – I find myself clearing 5 chapters in 1 hour, as opposed to 1 chapter for 1 hour or more – and the problem of possibly not liking the narrator is voided because of the screen reader.  If it’s not a book I’m really anticipating in audio book format, I’d rather just get the Kindle Book and read with the screen reader, so this accessibility is great.  I tested this with the books I’m reading right now, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to read the audio book because the narrator isn’t what I pictured for the book, so Kindle is already paying off.  That, plus I’ve spent 30 dollars on 3 books, instead of 1.  It makes me want to read more, and since I used to love reading when I had more vision, I’m really grateful to Amazon for taking the time to make Kindle accessible in a widely available way for the blind.  No overpriced add on, no overpriced devices – just two free pieces you can download to enjoy your books.  Never thought it’d be possible, but it is.

 

If you’re worried about a book not being text to speech enabled (they have to be to work with the NVDA accessibility) you can download a free sample of the book, and see if it works.  You also can just see if you’d be interested in the book, so I’ve totally been using this feature for every book I’ve downloaded.  Other than the 2nd and 3rd books in a series.  I find the free sample feature super useful, both to double check accessibility, and as a consumer, to see if I’d want the book.

 

I bring this up because like I said earlier, the first thing I downloaded worked with the old crappy accessibility, but it said it was text to speech enabled.  That only happened with one book I tried, mind you, but it’s something to mention if you’re worried about dropping money on a book, and it not being accessible.  Free sample is the way to go regardless for me, but testing accessibility with this as a work around to do so is just a little trick I figured I’d pass along.  The only hrmm thing about Kindle is that every book may not be accurate in its text to speech enabled status, so like I said I’d just get the free sample and double check to be sure.

 

The search functions, notes, highlighting, and dictionary all work as well.  Just Hit the applications key on a word, the definition pops up.  Shift and arrow to select a passage, right click and you can highlight.  Search, and the search function shows you possible results – like legit, everything is accessible, and it’s so great.  A lot of the time only half an application gets accessible, so once again, bravo Amazon.

 

If you can’t tell, I’m so happy with Kindle for PC, and it’s accessibility.  I heard Kindle tablets have a built in screen reader, and that’s why I researched into purchasing one, but I haven’t gotten one yet so can’t talk on how good or bad the screen reader is on that device.  The Kindle accessibility makes me want to buy a Kindle tablet more than ever however, so to me that means Amazon is going in the right direction with their accessibility.

 

I didn’t know this existed until recently, so even though it’s been out for a while, I wanted to make this post for anyone like me, who may not have known about Kindle for PC app accessibility, and would like to be able to have access to ebooks like everyone else.  It’s really good to use, and since it’s free, I’d say give it a try!

 

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