Voice Guide to Come to Kindle Products Next Year

Amazon announced that it is bringing Voice Guide and Explore by Touch, two accessibility features previously available only on Kindle Fire HD 8.9", to its new standard definition Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7".

The features help vision-impaired customers more easily navigate the menus and content on the devices, enjoy books and audiobooks, and listen to music. The features have been available with Kindle Fire HD 8.9" since its release and will be made available on the standard definition Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7" early next year.

Voice Guide leverages technology from IVONA, a text-to-speech software engine company. IVONA delivers pronunciations to read-aloud menus with Voice Guide and books with text-to-speech for Kindle Fire tablets.

With Voice Guide navigation, any action performed by the customer on the device is read aloud. For example, when a book is launched from the library, the system will announce the book title and the fact that it has been opened, saying, "The Hunger Games. Book opened." This mode also provides immediate feedback to visually impaired individuals for their actions on the device.

Additionally, vision-impaired customers can navigate the touchscreen with Explore by Touch. In this mode, customers are able to swipe their finger across the touchscreen and as they touch an item, the system announces what item has been tapped (e.g., when touching a book in the library the book title is called out loud). A second tap on the item will perform the default action on the item (e.g., a second tap on the book would open it).

"We have heard from thousands of customers who are vision-impaired that Kindle has made a difference in their lives," said Dave Limp, vice president, Amazon Kindle, in a statement. "With Kindle Fire HD 8.9" and soon our full line of new tablets, we are continuing our efforts to provide a range of accessibility features, Voice Guide, Explore by Touch, text-to-speech, optional text coloring, and adjustable font sizes."

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