Blind Bargains

Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009: 5. Amazon's Kindle Promise

We're over halfway through our year-end look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2009. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon, Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog, and the Fred's Head Companion's Michael McCarty to help create our list. We'll present one item every day through New Year's day, when we'll reach number 1. Today, Amazon's Kindle promise.

Amazon rocked the book publishing world with their release of the Kindle, one of the first self-contained electronic book readers and the most gifted item of the 2009 holiday season. With the Kindle 2, released earlier in 2009, a text-to-speech option was added, leading to speculation of possible access to the device, but also provoking publishers into a panic. Many believe the text-to-speech feature poses a copyright problem, and basically forced Amazon to make the feature disableable on a case-by-case basis. The blindness political organizations and several universities disagree, however, saying this discriminates against the blind. Out of all of this, Amazon has delivered a promise for a more accessible unit to be available sometime in 2010. Menus should speak in this release, and features will be included for large print users. No word on the accessibility of all books in the collection, however. The possibility of same-day access to books is an interesting and potentially earth-shattering development for blind and visually impaired book readers. While many details still need to be decided, what happens over the coming months could determine the future for book delivery for years to come. This will be an interesting story to watch in 2010, but the anticipation alone and the possible ramifications make this story good enough for number 5 on our list.

View more of the Blind Bargains Top 11 Stories of 2009

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Displaying 1 comment.
darknexus Tuesday, 29-Dec-2009 1:49 PM ET:

For anyone wanting a similar service that is accessible now, if you have an iPod Touch or iPhone have a look at Kobo: The book's content is accessible with Voiceover on these devices and you can search, purchase and read right from the app. Concerning the Kindle, if Amazon will grant us access to the entire collection then I support that. Otherwise, it's a device that really isn't that useful, all the menus in the world might speak but if I can't read the content it's pointless. As well, hopefully they deliver accessibility on their iPhone Kindle app. That, actually, might be easier in the short term as they could bypass the publishers' complaints. If Amazon isn't doing the tts but rather Voiceover is, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on for their copyright nonsense.

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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