E-reader hardware

Accessibility and E-Readers

E-readers (portable devices used primarily for reading electronic books) and general purpose tablets with book-reading apps, like the iPad, are fast becoming popular choices for reading the growing collection of books available in electronic formats. Both types arrived with some accessibility advantages, and developers have been making their products more accessible to people with visual and dexterity disabilities. This article is a summary of the current accessibility state-of-the-art for the most popular of these devices, as well as information on using computers to access e-books. The field is evolving due to lawsuits against schools and libraries, by groups concerned with access.

Most e-readers have features that make them easier for some users, compared to printed books: lighter weight, buttons or screen gestures for page-turning, magnification, and good contrast in low light. Brands and models differ widely on these and more advanced features such as text-to-speech, easy-to-use controls, and screens that perform well in all lighting conditions.

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E-books and E-reading Software

Electronic books (e-books) are an alternative to print, and may be useful to people who have difficulty reading because of vision or cognition disabilities, or who have difficulty holding a book or turning pages.  However, not all e-books are automatically accessible to blind users.  Libraries and schools should carefully consider their choices when making e-book decisions.

This article covers some of the most popular current choices.

E-book content may be available in different computer formats. Some books and magazines are available as standard text files or Microsoft Word documents. These are easily accessed by the use of screen reading software.

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e-Reader Waiver Granted for 1 Year

You may have heard that a coalition of e-reader manufacturers consisting of Amazon, Kobo and Sony, filed a petition requesting the FCC waive the rule requiring e-readers to have text to speech capabilities. 

The FCC has made a decision and the National Federation for the Blind has shared the following:

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Making styluses easier to use

Writing grips can make holding and using a pen or pencil easier for someone with dexterity disabilities. These devices, or variations, can also be useful with styluses, which are used as input aids with some portable hardware devices.

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Kindle 3 and Blind Access

Version 3 of Amazon's Kindle e-reader was released in late August 2010. Larry Wagner's article talks about the accessibility of this new model to blind users, and provides some usage tips.

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BookSense e-reader

BookSense DS from GW Micro is an e-reader with an OLED display for maximizing high contrast for low vision users. The BookSense model can handle multiple formats, including MP3, DAISY Consortium.

">DAISY; the BookSense XT can also read Microsoft Word documents and play digital talking books.

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