The iPad’s Built-in Accessibility
Apple’s products, such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad include accessibility features for the visually impaired. Shortcuts to accessibility features, a zoom function and closed captioning are included with the iPad. The iPad also allows the user to choose mono audio, which will focus the iPad’s speakers on either the right or left side of the device. VoiceOver software is included on the iPad. This program recognizes gestures made on the touchscreen and describes items as well as actions to the user. The user also has the ability to switch from black print on a white screen to the high-contrast white print on black.
In addition to built-in software, the backlit LCD screen provides an edge against E Ink e-readers when it comes to users who are visually impaired.
Accessories & Apps
Solona offers covers for the iPad, iPod and iPhone which make the screen slightly tactile for such activities as using the touchscreen keyboard.
The American Foundation for the Blind lists some useful iPad apps, including DaisyWorm, and audio book reader by the Association for the Blind of Western Australia, Inc. There is also an app which utilizes the iPhone’s camera called Digit-Eyes. This app reads item labels out loud to the user.
The Kindle’s Text-to-Speech
Text-to-Speech, or TTS, was an early feature of the Kindle 2. This software “reads” the text of an e-book out loud with a computerized voice.
Due to controversy over competition with audiobooks from publishers and the Author’s Guild, this feature was temporarily removed. Further controversy ensued because the Kindle was not accessible to the visually impaired.
On July 28th, 2010 the Library of Congress recommended that TTS may be considered legal under certain circumstances. Essentially, all users are allowed to legally circumvent DRM to enable TTS when there is no other audiobook option.