Electronic Book Readers

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Electronic Book Readers

Presented by Steven Kelley CVRT skelley@theiris.org
Attendees will find the a copy of this paper and more resources on e-readers at http://www.lowvisiontech.com/category/ereaders/
Intro to Accessibility of Electronic Book Readers

  1. Accessibility is not a given on e-readers off the shelf

  2. Kindle 3 with text-to-speech is still not completely accessible and requires some sighted assistance with set-up, printed instructions, and some menu navigation

  3. Devices such as iPad, iPhone have accessibility built in

  4. Font sizes vary on off the shelf e-readers and most do not have a screen magnification function

  5. Most e-readers do not offer the option to invert the colors using light colored text on a black background

E-Reader Accessibility and the Law

  1. Lawsuit settled by ACB and NFB in 2009 against Arizona State University for planning to deploy the Kindle DX as an electronic book reader among students (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/01/lawsuit-over-kindle-navigation-by-visually-impaired-settled.ars)

  2. Blind Access Journal’s review of the Kindle 3 and accessibility features: http://blindaccessjournal.com/2010/08/kindle-accessibility-review-how-far-has-amazon-opened-the-door-to-the-blind/

  3. 6/29/10 Open letter from the Dept. of Justice and Dept. of Education to university presidents regarding the use of Electronic Book readers (http://blog.govdelivery.com/usodep/2010/06/letter-from-department-of-justice-department-of-education-to-college-university-presidents-on-electr.html)

E-Book Reader Basics
Software and Hardware

  1. Many e-book readers are stand-alone electronic devices such as the Amazon Kindle, Sony E-Reader, and Barnes and Noble Nook

  2. The hardware may or may not have additional software allowing it to connect to the Internet, surf the Web or get email.


  1. Most e-book reader hardware has a software version that can be put on a computer or smart phone. Examples include Kindle software for the Android, PC and Mac, or Nook software for the iPhone and iPad

  2. Book formats: E-Book file formats vary among e-book readers!

  3. There are over 15 different file formats used by e-book readers

  4. PLUS DSM (Digital Rights Management) that usually restricts a purchase to being read on a particular reader

    For example: Amazon usually sells e-books in the AZW format. These books may be read using the Kindle hardware, or through the Kindle software on a PC or phone. This book format, however, will not be readable using a Nook or Sony E-Reader.

  5. Most stand alone e-readers do not play DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem ) format

  6. Resource: Kim Komando’s E-book files vary among readers http://www.komando.com/tips/index.aspx?id=9196&page=R and comparison chart http://www.komando.com/ereader/index-2.asp

  7. Resource: Calibre is a free tool for e-book library management (http://calibre-ebook.com) that will allow conversion from one format to another and offers a book viewer. Available for Windows, Mac and Linux

  8. Resource: DAISYtoEPUB converts DAISY files like Bookshare to EPUB file formats that may be used for many e-readers at http://www.donjohnston.com/products/daisytoepub/index.html

  9. Resource: Chamber Four very comprehensive E-book Reader Guide http://chamberfour.com/ereader-comparison/

Feature Comparisons
In addition to accessibility such as text-to-speech, font size, screen magnification, and inverse colors e-readers vary in the following characteristics:

  1. Screen size. Larger may be better for someone requiring larger fonts and or manipulating larger columns of text such as a newspaper

  2. Weight: Is it too heavy to hold comfortably for long periods of time?

  3. File Formats: What will be read? Kindle is great for books purchased directly from Amazon but of little use for NLS books from Bard

  4. Removable storage: Can a memory card or USB flash drive be used?

  5. Battery life: How long between charges?

  6. Communication with other Devices: Is there WiFi, Bluetooth, or cabled connection to other devices like smart phone or computers?

  7. Internet Access: Does this e-reader permit email or Web access?

  8. Note taking: Can you write or record notes on this device?

  9. Resource: Wikipedia Comparison of E-Book Readers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_readers

  10. Resource: E-book Reader Matrix (very comprehensive comparison) http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-book_Reader_Matrix

The iPad is a bit of a hybrid in terms of e-readers, because it has the ability to do much more than be an e-book reader. Its price also reflects this at nearly double the cost of the more expensive e-readers. The iPad, however, has built-in accessibility with Voice Over for text to speech, throughout the device, and screen magnification. In addition to these advantages, the iPad will run a wide variety of e-reader software, including Kobo. Kindle, Nook, Blio, Read2Go, and one of this writer’s favorites, Stanza in addition to iBook which comes installed. Most are free downloads from the App Store . The primary disadvantage to the iPad, particularly version 1 is the increased weight, vs. some of the other, lighter, e-readers.

New and Notable

  1. Blio http://www.blio.com developed by KNFB, an e-reading software application that runs on Android and Apple products. Free download from App Store

  2. Read2Go http://read2go.org DAISY reader application for iPad, iTouch, and iPhone fully integrated with Bookshare. $19.95 from App Store

Marketed Specifically to LV/Blind consumers
Icon Mobile Manager http://www.levelstar.com

BookSense http://www.hims-inc.com/products/booksense

Victor Reader Stream http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/blindness/dtb_players/compact_models/_details/id_81/victorreader_stream.html

Milestone 312 Digital Book Player http://www.bones.ch

PlexTalk Pocket http://www.plextalk.com

Intel Reader http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/blindness/intel_reader/_details/id_156/intel_reader.html
Book Port
KNFB Reader

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