Flash! Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin makes all books TTS enabled for the print disabled

Flash! Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin makes all books TTS enabled for the print disabled

Thanks so much to PF in the Amazon Kindle community for the heads-up on this!

As my regular readers know, I don’t like publishers blocking text-to-speech access in their Kindle store books.   While it is legal from what I understand, I do think it disproportionately disadvantages the disabled.

I also think it is a bad business decision, personally.  I think the publishers would sell more books by allowing it than they gain in audiobook sales by blocking it.

There has recently been a major step forward, even though it is not on the Kindles themselves.

Text-to-speech has not been available in the free Kindle reader apps.  That includes on a computer with assistive technology that will normally read whatever is on the screen.

There is now a

Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin

that enables Kindle for PC to work with screen readers like JAWS  (Job Access With Speech) and NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access). 

What does that mean?

Many people with print disabilities have programs on their computers called “screen readers” that read out loud to them the words on the screen.  These are much more sophisticated than the built-in screen readers in operating systems (like Narrator in Windows and Voiceover for Mac OS X and iOS). 

Those screen readers have not worked with Kindle for PC.

If you download the plugin, they will.

That means a blind person can have a computer read a Kindle book out loud to them.  That book may be shared with people on the same account who are going to sight-read it…a really nice feature.

Yes, people who certify a print disability can get many books for free from organizations like http://www.bookshare.org .  However, that isn’t all books…if you might be interested in some of the books from smaller publishers that are only available in the Kindle store, this plug-in will also make those available to you.

The issue of blocking text-to-speech access on the Kindles themselves should be reviewed again by the Copyright Office in about three years.  They may decide at that point that it isn’t okay to do, but we’ll find out later about that.

In the meantime, this is a very positive addition to the accessibility features of Kindle books. 

By the way, you may need to certify a disability to legally use some things designed for use by the print disabled.

I don’t know yet if it is available for Kindle for Mac or other Kindle reader apps.

Amazon Kindle community thread

National Federation of the Blind article

For more information on text-to-speech and the Kindle, see this earlier article:

The Disabled Deserve to Read

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

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16 Responses to “Flash! Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin makes all books TTS enabled for the print disabled”

  1. kindle dx games Says:

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    Flash! Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin makes all books TTS enabled for the print disabled « I Love My Kindle…

  2. james Cook Says:

    Great information. I just recently purchased a Kindle Fire HD. I really like the e-reader and it’s built-in text reader. Sometimes, however, I want to use my Desktop with a much larger screen and sound system. For this Kindle for PC works great but I want the Text to speech feature.

    I’m trying to get the Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin to work and so far with no success. I already had the Kindle for PC installed and working before I found out about the text-to-speech plugin.

    From the Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin Web Page located at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000632481 I downloaded what was supposed to be the Plugin and installed it. However, what I downloaded & installed just appears to be the Kindle for PC app without the plugin.

    It appears to not have the Plugin because the hot-keys do not produce the desired results, they are not responsive and nothing in any menu suggests the plugin is present. Therefore it appears to me that the plugin is not present. When I press CTRL+R to read nothing happens. None of the Hot-Keys function.

    I don’t see any Kindle for PC Support phone number, Chat or email address on Amazon website. Can you help point me in the correct direction? Thanks for your help, Jim

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, james!

      Did you already have screen reader software installed before you installed the plug-in? The plug-in works with that. If you are print disabled, you’ll probably be familiar with those programs…if you want more information on it, ask again.

      In terms of help, you can use Kindle Support:

      http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

      You’ll see a

      Contact Us

      button. They handle all sorts of Kindle issues.

      • james Cook Says:

        I have NaturalReader 11 (TTS) installed. However, from researching the Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin on the Internet, it’s my understanding that the TTS function for reading books is performed internally by Kindle for PC and that you only require a external software for navigating the Kindle for PC menus.

        Here’s a quote from one site:

        “What he didn’t understand in the beginning was that the TTS for reading the content is actually a part of Kindle for PC and not from an external screen reader application running parallel to the Kindle app. The only thing the external screen reader does is to provide verbal access to the Kindle for PC interface, such as menus and dialog or message boxes or prompts. Once he did understand it, he was able to look at the app in a whole new way and felt much more comfortable with the interaction between the two applications running together. ”

        The Natural Reader TTS that I have installed will read the Kindle books but I was hoping for a tighter integrated solution with the Accessibility Plugin.

        Thanks for responding and for the Amazon Support email address. I’ll send an email to them for some clarification.

  3. james Cook Says:

    The Natural Reader TTS that i have installed only reads one page at a time. It’s my understanding that the Plugin TTS for reading books is built-in and that it will start reading from the beginning when CTRL+R is pressed. That there is a number of Hotkeys like this built-in that lets one enjoy a more precise control experience.

    I can use the External Natural Reader but it’s just not very smooth experience.

  4. james Cook Says:

    Ok, I just got off a long Amazon Chat session.

    Talked to a Kindle for PC Specialist who had me uninstall Kindle for PC accessibility Plugin and reinstall it. The TTS function still didn’t work.

    Then I specifically ask the Specialist to verify that the TTS for reading content was built into the Kindle for PC accessibility plugin. She affirmed that to be the case. She then ask me to leave the Chat and reboot and then start a new chat if the TTS still didn’t work after the Reboot.

    I started a new Chat session and then was told that the Kindle for PC accessibility TTS function only works for reading content if you have a compatible external Screen Reader installed.

    I explained that it was my understanding that the built-in TTS plugin function was suppose to read content and that the external Screen Reader was only for Menus & dialog boxes. She insisted that is not the case and that the external Screen Reader is required for reading content. VERY disappointing! I guess that’s that!

    • james Cook Says:

      I do have a purchased Natural Reader 10 external Screen Reader TTS installed but it apparently it is not compatible with the Plugin. I think the JAWS, NVDA, and Microsoft Narrator TTS are probably too expensive for me.

      Below is a followup email from Amazon:
      Please understand, a screen reader must be installed on the computer in order to use text-to-speech features. Some of the tested screen readers are – JAWS, NVDA, and Microsoft Narrator.

      System requirements:

      • Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP with Service Pack 2+, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
      • Memory: 1 GB RAM
      • Free hard disk space: 300MB
      • Must have a screen reader installed in order to use text-to-speech features. Tested screen readers: JAWS, NVDA, and Microsoft Narrator.

      Because this software is an assistive technology, there are no restrictions on text-to-speech reading. However, in order to use the text-to-speech feature, an external screen reader program must be installed and running on the Windows PC.

      The external screen reader is used to read aloud menus and navigation items and provides support to the text-to-speech engine.

      Accessibility Plugin is not available for other Kindle applications at this time, and currently only available to U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia customers.

  5. james Cook Says:

    I just check a NVDA website http://www.nvda-project.org/ and it appears to be a free TTS. There is a Video on the website so you can hear the voice. The voice was very computer sounding and would not work for me.

  6. james Cook Says:

    Microsoft Narrator is a light-duty screen reader utility included in Microsoft Windows. Narrator reads dialog boxes and window controls in a number of the more basic applications for Windows.

    While Microsoft recommends that the visually impaired purchase a full-function screen reader for general computer use.

    Narrator can assist a blind person in installing a full-function screen reader, assisting the user until his/her screen reader of choice is up and running. As well, because Narrator is a lightweight screen reader that requires minimal “hooks” into the operating system, Narrator can provide speech when a full-function screen reader might be unable to do so, such as during the process of updating hardware drivers.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, james!

      I appreciate all of that information!

      Do you have a certified print disability? That’s the intent for the accessibility plug-in, and why it would work with those screen readers intended for that audience. That’s my understanding.

      If you do have proof of a print disability, I would think you could get a compatible screen reader for free, but I’m not sure.

      • james Cook Says:

        No I don’t a print disability. My eyes get strained when I read a lot so I like to minimize that by using Screen Readers.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, james!

        That makes sense. I like TTS (text-to-speech), but I don’t fall under the exceptions to copyright that enable someone to circumvent the blocking of text-to-speech access.

        TTS is a big issue for me (I’ve written about it before), however, it’s clear that those with print disabilities are treated differently under the law in this matter.

        I share your desire that TTS be available on all books. I wonder if your eyestrain might qualify you in some way? You might want to ask your ophthalmologist.

        Take a look at Bookshare.org’s requirements…that may give you some idea on the requirements.

  7. Jason Says:

    You can use accessibility from the control panel to have Kindle for PC speak, but if you are not blind and only want to use it for a audio learning style it gets kind of excessive, because Windows will want to read everything, instead of like Google Chromes Speakit.

    Examples of what it sound like can be found here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj4ch8ApVts
    I increase the reading speed so (chipmunk) so sound and tone doesn’t bother me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jason!

      You are still using Speakit on a Windows machine, right? Kindle for PC will allow the books with text-to-speech access blocked to be read with a screen reader on that Windows PC. The plug-in needs Windows, but then my understanding is that you could use different software for the TTS.

      Thanks for the information!

  8. Greg Says:

    I myself am blind from another desease,Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
    So I was heart stricken when I visited Amazon to download the Kindle plugin and informed that the plugin is not available for us people in Finland
    Yeh I was hurt as I just bought $200 of Kindle books
    I tried changing my desktop region to the UK.Unfortunately it did not work
    Anyone have suggestions I would be grateful

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Greg!

      I’m away from my computer right now, but I wanted to get back to you on this part right away.

      You can “return” a Kindle store book within seven days of purchase for a refund. You can do that by going to

      http://www.Amazon.com/my

      Click or tap

      Actions…

      You should see the option. Hopefully that takes care of your $200.

      I don’t know Finnish copyright law, so I don’t know what options you have there for getting accessible versions.

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