Kindle Fire line builds its voice and touch accessibility skills

Amazon is expanding support for two important accessibility features to its entire Kindle Fire tablet series.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. Josh Miller/CNET

Amazon is making strides to make its entire Kindle Fire tablet series more accessible to all consumers via expanded support for two very important features.

The two features in question are the Voice Guide and Explore by Touch navigation tools. With these features, the goal is to both help vision-impaired Kindle owners read books more easily and aid those with learning disabilities to improve their reading skills.

Leveraging technology from text-to-speech software provider Ivona, the Voice Guide can read aloud menus and actions happening on the device, such as when a particular title has been opened or closed.

Explore by Touch is an alternative navigation method in which users can swipe a finger across the touch screen, and as he or she touches an item, the system will announce out loud which item has been selected. A second tap on the item will perform the default action on the item (i.e. opening or closing the book or magazine).

Both of these features were already supported by the 8.9-inch edition of Kindle Fire HD when it launched, and they will be added to the Kindle Fire and 7-inch Kindle Fire HD by early next year.

These advanced accessibility features could further distinguish Amazon in both the tablet and e-reader spaces.

Up until now, most of the features already available for vision-impaired readers and those with learning disabilities on all Kindle Fire devices are actually fairly basic and common across e-readers from multiple vendors, such as large fonts and simultaneous read-alongs with synchronized text.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Amazon making Kindle Fire more accessible via voice, touch controls."

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