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@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Automic Blog, Kevin Benedict, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White

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“Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” Coming to Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7” Early Next Year

For years features such as text-to-speech and adjustable font sizes have helped vision-impaired Kindle owners enjoy books more easily and those with learning disabilities to improve their reading skills. Today, Amazon announced that it is bringing “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch”—two new accessibility features previously available on Kindle Fire HD 8.9”—to its new standard definition Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7”. These features help vision-impaired customers to more easily navigate the menus and content on the device, enjoy books and audiobooks, and listen to music. These features have been available with Kindle Fire HD 8.9” since its release and will be made available on the standard definition Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7” early next year.

“We have heard from thousands of customers who are vision-impaired that Kindle has made a difference in their lives. With Kindle Fire HD 8.9” and soon our full line of new tablets, we are continuing our efforts to provide a range of accessibility features—Voice Guide, Explore by Touch, text-to-speech, optional text coloring and adjustable font sizes—for our vision-impaired customers,” said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “We plan to deliver additional accessibility features, so that our vision-impaired customers can have a better experience for reading, communicating and consuming media.”

Voice Guide leverages technology from IVONA, one of the leading text-to-speech software engine companies. IVONA delivers world-class pronunciations to read aloud menus with Voice Guide and books with text-to-speech for Kindle Fire tablets.

With Voice Guide navigation, any action performed by the customer on the device is read aloud. For example, when a book is launched from the library, the system will announce the book title and the fact that it has been opened, saying “The Hunger Games. Book opened.” This mode also provides immediate feedback to visually-impaired individuals for their actions on the device. Additionally, vision-impaired customers can navigate the touchscreen with Explore by Touch. In this mode, customers are able to swipe their finger across the touchscreen and as they touch an item, the system announces what item has been tapped (e.g. when touching a book in the library the book title is called out loud). A second tap on the item will perform the default action on the item (e.g. a second tap on the book would open it).

Other Kindle reader features vision-impaired customers and those with learning disabilities can take advantage of on the all new Kindle Fire tablets include:

  • Text-to-speech—simultaneously reading along with the synchronized text.
  • Adjustable fonts—customers can select from multiple font settings, including large font sizes for low vision, and adjust margins to allow for less text to appear on a page.
  • Modify the text color to appear as white over black, black over white or sepia.
  • Built-in dictionary for instant access to look up new or difficult words.

Vision-impaired customers can also take advantage of the free Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin reading application, which provides an accessible way to enjoy the vast Kindle library on any personal computer. The application features voice-guided menu navigation, large font sizes, high contrast reading mode, keyboard navigation and accessible shortcuts, as well as text-to-speech reading with adjustable voice settings for customers who have an external screen reader program installed on their PC.

Customers can learn more about the all-new Kindle Fire tablets at www.amazon.com/kindlefirehd and Kindle for PC with Accessibility Plugin at www.amazon.com/kindle/accessibility.

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as Books; Movies, Music & Games; Digital Downloads; Electronics & Computers; Home & Garden; Toys, Kids & Baby; Grocery; Apparel, Shoes & Jewelry; Health & Beauty; Sports & Outdoors; and Tools, Auto & Industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon’s developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon’s own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Kindle Paperwhite is the most-advanced e-reader ever constructed with 62% more pixels and 25% increased contrast, a patented built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions, extra-long battery life, and a thin and light design. The new latest generation Kindle, the lightest and smallest Kindle, now features new, improved fonts and faster page turns. Kindle Fire HD features a stunning custom high-definition display, exclusive Dolby audio with dual stereo speakers, high-end, laptop-grade Wi-Fi with dual-band support, dual-antennas and MIMO for faster streaming and downloads, enough storage for HD content, and the latest generation processor and graphics engine—and it is available in two display sizes—7” and 8.9”. The large-screen Kindle Fire HD is also available with 4G wireless, and comes with a groundbreaking $49.99 introductory 4G LTE data package. The all-new Kindle Fire features a 20% faster processor, 40% faster performance, twice the memory, and longer battery life.

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.cn, www.amazon.it, and www.amazon.es. As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

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