Adjust text size:

profoundly yours the abledbody blog

I wonder if Intel feels sheepish right now. Here they are, thinking they’ve just launched a great new product for the blind, a mobile device that reads text aloud. Intel partnered with assistive tech pioneer HumanWare and reached out to the blind community to get their input, too. But the Intel Reader, announced yesterday, has pretty much bombed in the marketplace. At $1,500, the Reader is overpriced and doesn’t have any more bells and whistles than other devices already out there. Intel should have known this would happen — or perhaps they don’t really care. After all, if they can get schools to pay for it under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, then they’ll make money. But making products that don’t represent the needs and wants of consumers — blind or not — is anathema to what technology companies should be doing. They should be innovating along a universal design ... keep reading »
Amazon’s new Kindle DX, designed for reading textbooks and newspapers, will include text-to-speech to allow students with print disabilities to read textbooks out loud. Amazon’s Director of Kindle Books, Laura Porco, said the company is working with three of the top five textbook publishers — Pearson, Cengage Learning and Wiley, along with more than 75 University Press Publishers to make their educational materials available in the Kindle Store starting this summer. With content accessible in an audio version to everyone — not just to those who can “prove” they have a print disability — Amazon and publishers have taken a big step in breaking down barriers to educational content for people with disabilities. The Kindle DX has a 9.7-inch electronic display, a built-in PDF reader and the ability to automatically switch from portrait to landscape. It can store up to 3,500 books, and also lets readers annotate and take notes. The ... keep reading »
Today I attended the Authors Guild protest in New York City, and turnout was good. There were about 100 protesters in all, many who are blind or have sight impairments, along with representatives from the International Dyslexia Association. The protesters teamed up with the Reading Rights Coalition to press the Guild to allow books to be made available in audio versions for use on Amazon’s Kindle 2. The Kindle debuted with text-to-speech capabilities but met resistance from authors and publishers over copyrights. Protesters held signs that said “Print for Some, Audio for Others,” and “No Need for Greed We Want to Read.” Though the protest was aimed against the Guild, chants against Amazon’s Kindle were rampant, including, “Give Us Access to the Kindle.” For the protesters, the event was a demonstration for equal access to books, which the Coalition says blind people have fought for many years to get, without much success. ... keep reading »
Some pictures from the Authors Guild protest at the Guild’s headquarters in New York City. Related articles: “We Want To Read” On Kindle, Protesters Say keep reading »
Huffington Post has compiled a list of powerful quotes from people who signed an online petition called We want to read, following Amazon’s decision to allow the Authors Guild to disable the text to speech feature in its Kindle 2 e-book reader. This has set off a storm of opposition among groups that see the Guild’s actions as harmful to access for persons who are reading disabled. Today, disability groups will protest at the Guild’s headquarters in New York City. Here are a few quotes that stood out: Mary Butigan, Florida Have freinds that are going through eye cancer and cannot read. This is a great resource for them to have books to hear while going through chemo and escape the rigors of loosing their sight. Timothy Emmons, Alabama Text to Speech is important to me for a variety of reasons, the main one of which, I am totally blind. I rely on it ... keep reading »
As I wrote about in today’s Profoundly Yours blog, a coalition of disability groups, led by the National Federation of the Blind, is planning a protest march outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York Tuesday. The Guild had earlier criticized the text-to-speech feature, arguing it could undermine the market for audiobooks without compensating authors and publishers — prompting a partial backdown from the Seattle online retailing giant Amazon. Now the disability groups are demanding the full activation of text-to-speech, which they say gives visually-impaired people equal access to electronic books. keep reading »
Things aren’t letting up for Amazon. Under recent pressure from the Authors Guild, Amazon has allowed authors and publishers to disable the text-to-speech function on any or all of their e-books available for the Kindle 2. Now, no fewer than nine disability organizations are leading a fight to persuade Amazon, authors and publishers to make all books on the Kindle 2 book reader available in audio format to people with sight and reading disabilities. Brown, Goldstein & Levy, a law firm representing the National Federation for the Blind, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the International Dyslexia Association, and other groups sent a letter to six publishing houses denouncing Amazon’s decision with the Authors Guild. The groups asked Amazon, authors and publishers to turn text-to-speech back on for all books offered on mainstream devices. While the Authors Guild has long waived copyright fees for audio formats for people who are ... keep reading »