Sunday, March 14, 2010

Apple iPAD - Accessible e-reader?

Apple's iPAD is coming soon. So what does that mean for the e-book market? Of course, if you have been listening to the media stories - the iPAD will be much more than an e-book reader. Over 150,00 Apps, large color touch screen and more.

But will this device make e-books more mainstream?

As we get closer to the launch date (April 3rd), more details are emerging that may hint at the power of this device for people with disabilities. Most notably, the iPAD will read aloud to users - using the Voice Over feature that has been a part of the Mac Accessibility features for years.

What is the difference between voice over and the text to speech ability of the Kindle? Well, first the Kindle's speech output is limited to simply reading the book. And have you heard the text to speech on the Kindle?? The voice quality is not up to the level of other text to speech tools. Also, publishers have the right to disable this speech feature for their books. (Will the same hold true for the iPAD - we'll have to wait and see)

Voice Over is more of an actual screen reader. This will provide auditory support throughout the device - not just in the e-book. This has the potential to provide a much better reading experience for audio users.

Want to learn more about Voice Over in Mac OS X? Check the Apple Voice Over web page here.

Want to learn about Voice Over for the iPhone? Check the iPhone Voice Over web page here.

According to the website, the other accessibility features of the iPAD will be:

  • Support for playback of closed-captioned content
  • VoiceOver screen reader
  • Full-screen zoom magnification
  • White on black display
  • Mono audio
We will post more details about the iPAD as they come in.

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