In a recent discussion over at Historiann’s about the meaning of Amazon.com’s Kindle technology, several people pointed out that while we may not like the Kindle format it does have lasting and important benefits to differently-abled readers. In my comments there, I was thinking about my students with vision impediments or mobility issues who already prefer, or need to, read their text from a screen rather than handout or book. They can enlarge the font or scroll through the text when turning the pages would require assistance. For them Kindle is an extension of technology they are already using, as well as a mainstreaming of that technology to all users regardless of abilities.
What many of us did not think of, is the number of people for whom sighted reading is impossible or for whom read text works better that are aided in their reading by the Kindle. Kindle 1.0 had voice technology that would read the text. For people who want to read on their own, it meant the liberation from only being able to read texts available in braille or spending hours on a single sentence to being able to read any digitized text in amazon.com’s , and presumably other compatible formats’, holdings.
With the revamp of the Kindle to 2.0, Amazon.com made the decision to discontinue the voice function.
The Reading Rights Coalition, made up of differently-abled groups currently benefiting from Kindle 1.0, and their allies protested outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. The group is asking everyone to please sign a petition to get Amazon.com to put the voice function back into the Kindle so that everyone has equal access to their books. You can sign the petition here.
- reading in cafe/unattributed
- blind woman using reading stick technology/ unattributed