Sunday, March 22, 2009

Disability groups urge publishers to activate computer voice on Kindle 2


Upset that Random House has deactivated the text-to-speech function on the Kindle 2, nine disability groups are urging major publishers to activate the computerized voice that reads digital books out-loud on the Kindle 2.

The nine groups sent letters to the publishers, and co-signers included National Federation of the Blind, the International Dyslexia Association, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Letters were sent to Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin and Hachette.

Here's an excerpt from the Random House letter: "We are even more appalled to learn that Amazon, under pressure, would henceforth allow publishers and authors at their whim to withdraw mainstream access to electronic books for those requiring aural access ... We are saddened to see that Random House has now instructed that text-to-speech be disabled for all devices that read electronic books. For a terribly long time those with print disabilities have been consigned to alternative formats with limited choices on expensive special purpose machines. Now that the opportunity for mainstream access to books on equal terms is possible, this community will not allow publishers and authors to deny them the right to read."