Accessibility & Technology

Alexa, Read My Book

Jul 5, 2019

Alexa, Read My Book

Last month, while preparing for our session on Amazon’s Accessibility, we discovered just how desirable it can be to have Alexa read to us.  Amazon’s well known, much loved, voice assistant will read you the books in your Kindle or Audible library.  All you have to do is ask.

This is surely one of the easiest options available for reading books.  It’s a natural for people with vision loss, and a great convenience for people who want to continue reading while they do other things.  Ironically, Alexa’s skills do not even come under the heading of ‘accessibility’, yet it is the functionality we’ve been waiting for.

 

Amazon Fire 7 tablet unboxed.

We learned more about this fantastic feature in an email from our friend Steven.  He wrote, “I purchased the brand new Fire 7 tablet ($50).  It is hands-free using Alexa vocal commands to open a book, pause the book, fast forward, go to a different chapter, etc.  All of which I saw demonstrated at the (Amazon Books) store.  Alexa is built in to the Fire tablet, no additional devices are required.”  His experience in the store was also excellent. “The sales person was great, totally setting up and downloading my tablet and it was fully functional when I left the store, except for connecting it to my Wi-Fi when I got home.”

Steven’s approach is a very good one…get it set up by the experts in-store, if you can.  Amazon has 17 physical store locations currently.  Click for locations.  The Amazon Accessibility Customer Service Line (888-283-1678) can also help get everything set up and answer your questions.

The very same voice commands that control the reading on the tablet, do the same on an Amazon Echo speaker.  Alexa can read Kindle books that are authorized for Text to Speech or Screen Reader Enabled.  It seems the majority of books are eligible, just be sure to check before you buy a Kindle book.

Alexa will also read your kindle and Audible books on an iOS device or Android, although it’s not quite as hands-free or as agreeable as it is on an Amazon device.  In this case you would open the Alexa app and tap the button to ask.

 

Amazon Alexa speaker next to smartphone with Amazon apps.

How to Ask Alexa

Kindle Alexa commands:

– Read my Kindle book “To Kill A Mockingbird”

– Play

– Pause

– Resume

– Stop

– Skip Back / Skip Ahead

It is Alexa’s very own familiar voice that reads the Kindle books, and she’s a very good reader.  Audible books are read by an array of professional readers including authors, actors and celebrities. 

More about Kindle and Alexa.

 

Audible Alexa commands:

– Play the audiobook “War and Peace”

– Play

– Pause

– Resume

– Stop

– Go Back / Go Forward (30 seconds)

– Next / Previous Chapter

– Go to Chapter 5

More about Audible and Alexa.

Go ahead and ask. Alexa is ready when you are.

 

For comments, questions or feedback, email us, or connect on Facebook or Twitter. We would love to hear from you!


About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.

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