May 22

Origin Instruments has come out with a long-awaited solution to the problem of turning pages on the Amazon Kindle: the PageBot. It’s a small mechanical device that fits over your Kindle 2 or Kindle DX and manually presses the Previous and Next Page buttons with integrated actuators, with multiple interfaces for a wide variety of adaptive switches. The PageBot can be powered from the standard Kindle power adapter or from an optional rechargeable USB battery pack.

PageBot from Origin Instruments

Honestly, it would have been best if Amazon saw fit to integrate switch support into its Kindle hardware; adding a mechanical device is adding another layer of complexity to suffer complications or breakdowns. But until Amazon is convinced of the necessity, this looks like it should do nicely.

Apr 20

Amazon’s Kindle will finally support library lending, the company announced today.

Later this year, Kindle owners and those who run Amazon’s Kindle apps will be able to borrow books from over 11,000 local libraries. In addition, Amazon says, users will be able to make annotations and highlight text. All of that content is saved and will be included in the e-book if the user opts to check it out again.

“We’re doing a little something extra here,” Jay Marine, Amazon’s Kindle director said in a statement. “Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we’re extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them, perfectly Whispersynced.”

The addition of library loaning to the Kindle is a key addition for Amazon. Currently, Kindle owners can lend some e-books to other users for a period of 14 days. As with Amazon’s latest Library Lending option, recipients can access the loaned books on their Kindle devices or via any of the company’s many Kindle applications.

The earlier lack of library lending for the Kindle had proven to be a deal-breaker for prospective e-reader buyers. That service has been available for quite some time on other devices including the Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony’s Reader.

Earlier this year, CNET’s David Katzmaier acknowledged that he is one of the folks who opted against buying a Kindle because it lacked support for library lending. Many libraries around the U.S. use the EPUB format for their e-book needs. Both the Reader and the Nook both support that option. Katzmaier was able to check out some books from his local library, download Adobe Digital Editions, the software that his local branch requires, and drag-and-drop the options to his Sony Reader.

To finally match the competition in library lending, Amazon has enlisted the help of OverDrive, which works with the aforementioned 11,000 libraries around the U.S.

OverDrive might sound familiar to iPad and iPhone owners. The company currently offers its Media Console app for the iOS-based devices, allowing users to download e-books from their local libraries for free.

Amazon said that Kindle Library Lending will be available later this year.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20055673-17.html#ixzz1K6EN79vi

Dec 07

The latest version of an open source audio recording tool designed to allow anyone to produce DAISY format electronic books has been released by the global DAISY Consortium of blindness organisations, publishers, technology companies and others.

DAISY (digital accessible information system) books created with the Obi 1.2 software can contain chapters, sub-sections and pages, allowing users with print disabilities to easily navigate through the content. The Obi tool is also fully accessible to screen-readers.

Version 1.2 of the Obi tool features a number of improvements and upgrades for users, including an adaptation to work with Microsoft Windows 7. Users can now also manage large DAISY production projects more easily; and MP3 and WAV format audio files can now be imported into projects.

All DAISY content is produced to a standard developed by the DAISY Consortium, whose aim is to see all published information made readily available to people with print disabilities through digital talking books.

Taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter.

Nov 24

As part of their outreach efforts, Bookshare has offered to give anyone (with a qualifying disability) a free one month trial membership if a current volunteer (that would be me) refers them. To claim your trial membership, you’ll have to do two things:

1) Contact me with your name and email address. You can leave a comment here, use the Contact form, or send me a tweet @DisabilityBook on Twitter.

2) Enter the following promo code in Step 3 of the form when you sign up: VGM2010

And to put the icing on the cake, the volunteer who refers the most new members each month gets to pick books to add to the collection, and a donor will pay for the books and scanning. Tell me what book you would like to read that isn’t already on Bookshare when you contact me, and I’ll consider it for recommendation if I win!

This is a great opportunity to read all those books you’ve been missing out on. Thanks to Bookshare for giving away memberships!

Nov 01

A call for text-to-speech functions to be included on all electronic book platforms to improve their accessibility has been issued by a group of publishing and literary organisations.

The Publishers Association, The Society of Authors, The Association of Authors Agents and The Right to Read Alliance ­ – itself an umbrella campaign group, whose members include The Royal National Institute of Blind People ­- grouped together to issue the joint statement. It recommended that speech functions, which help many print-disabled readers access a range of otherwise inaccessible e-books, “is routinely enabled on all e-books across all platforms, at least where there
is no audio-book edition commercially available.”

The statement continued: “It is in the interests of publishers for their published content to be available and accessible to as many people as possible. This includes the broadening of the market to those with visual impairments or other disabilities”.

The recommendation follows ongoing disputes over the inclusion of text-to-speech functions on e-book readers. Last year US manufacturer Amazon allowed publishers to disable the feature on an early version of its Kindle e-book reader, after an authors’ rights group claimed that the text-to-speech function effectively breached a royalties agreement ( see E-Access Bulletin issue 110:
http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=244 ).

However, Amazon subsequently agreed to incorporate extra accessibility features into the Kindle after several American universities rejected the device as a potential teaching-aid, citing inaccessibility to blind students ( see http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=383 ).

Taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter at http://www.headstar.com/eab.

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