Here is a heads up that I discovered through a Google Alert and thought it would be good to share for anyone who is a keen user of the Kindle or for anyone who knows someone who is either blind or has low vision who likes or would be keen to use the device.
It is forecast, that Amazon is apparently releasing another new Kindle. It has to be asked, though, what will be different about the new device.
After years of having no text-to-speech, there is about to be another kindle which is new and improved. It is said that the new device is to be thinner, lighter, white in colour and with a rounded design that will make it easier to hold in one hand. The device’s most interesting feature though is the new one for blind people.
Whereas the fourth-generation Kindle Touch which was released in 2011 had speakers and jacks for headphones as well as the text-to-speech function, it was also the last device that was accessible for the blind or those who were partially sighted. The Wall Street Journal reported that when Amazon upgraded the LCD-screens on the Fire tablets they also removed the audio features from their Kindle e-reader. This, therefore, made it inaccessible to users who were blind.
Like the Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo, the new Kindle will be available with Bluetooth wireless technology which is apparently a first in the devices. When connected to Bluetooth speakers or headphones, the new Kindle will be able to read e-books out loud.
The accessibility will be determined by the easiness of a person who is blind being able to pair up a Bluetooth audio device with the Kindle. Mr. Chris Danielsen who is director of communications for the National Federation of the Blind has stated that pairing up with Bluetooth is generally easy just as long as the host device has a good text-to-speech technology. This can be something like a built-in or third party screen reader.
Danielsen has also said that one of the implementation factors that will be reviewed carefully is “how the pairing of the Bluetooth headset or speaker with the device works, and this will impact on how successfully it can be used by a blind person”.
National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind announced in March that it will be working alongside Amazon to enhance accessibility, improve reading experiences for blind students as well as increasing selection. This will also include those who are deaf-blind or those who suffer from low vision. The Federation, however, have been advocating to get greater accessibility on both Kindle devices as well as content since the first introduction of the Kindle.
While the new Kindle has not been seen or tested by the Company, they are glad to see that greater accessibility in the new device has been introduced by Amazon.
As stated by the Journal, even though Amazon isn’t the only vendor option of e-books for blind people, it has a widely held share of the e-book market in the U.S. as well as a proprietary file format.
The news of the new kindle has emerged after Amazon won a contract worth $30 million starting next school year for the delivery of e-books to public schools in New York City.
After doing some further research into this article, it appears that there will be two new Kindles. Both the basic Kindle and the Paperwhite (front-lit version) have been upgraded and given a new look. They will both be released in an ivory white colour. As well as having the Bluetooth feature as noted above and the fact that they will be thinner and lighter there won’t be much more change to them.
New Basic Kindle with Bluetooth
The basic Kindle will still have the lower-res 167 ppi touchscreen and the Paperwhite will still have the 300 ppi touchscreen with lighting which is sharper. Both devices will now have 4GB of storage.
Both the new Kindles will come with the Bluetooth connectivity feature as mentioned above. Using the VoiceView feature from Amazon means that eBooks can be read aloud over the Bluetooth speaker which is like an audiobook. This is ideal for books that didn’t have the treatment of the audiobook.
New Paperwhite with Bluetooth
The new Paperwhite along with an audio adapter for the micro USB port can be purchased as part of an accessibility bundle.
Prices and Release Dates
The price for the new Amazon Kindle will be starting at $80. This will be for the ad-supported model with Wi-Fi-only and will be released to buy on the 7th July 2016.
The price for the new Paperwhite is starting at $120 and will be available to buy on 30th June 2016.
Although I enjoy reading on my kindle which is the basic one from the first time it came out, I think it is a good idea to update older versions and make them more up to date as technology keeps changing. I would like to try the new upgraded Paperwhite that is now being released with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
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