29 November 2010

Amazon Kindle, Dyslexia and disabled Text to Speech

I feel let down. For once we have a device that opens the world of literature to people with disabilities and again greed has taken preference.

It is not often I get the chance to have a incredibly complex science novel book read to me over audio book as they are not often published on this format. But here comes the Amazon Kindle and the advances in "Text to Speech" technology that is integrated into a fantastic little package that opens the world of books to people like myself with a disability like Dyslexia.

Dyslexia is easy to hide as it is not a physical disability but it is debilitating when you are unable to read a whole novel or feel inadequate when you are unable to quickly read a short paragraph that someone has asked you to read. Dyslexic people have been known to be incredibly clever and the list of famous philosophers, scientists, engineers and musicians that have dyslexia is extensive.

Dyslexia takes its forum (like blindness or hearing impaired) on different levels from simple reading and spelling problems to severer reading and the inability to spell or comprehend written language.

The Kindle has the possibility to open the gap for people who want to read but find it difficult to do so because of their disability. I use the kindle nightly to read as I read with text to speech on to follow the words as it is spoken to me and has opened the world of books to me.


Many publishers have decided that it is a copyright infringement to have the kindle read out loud. Well I am disabled I cannot read or comprehend written language by myself to a level that it takes to be comfortable.

It is not right that they have done this as they have taken the equivalent of the "access ramp" away from dyslexic people by taking away the text to speech function on the Kindle.

If you do appreciate what I am saying then please support me as I would like to raise a petition to amazon and the publishes with the names of 1000 peoples to raise the awareness of dyslexia or similar disability that technology (like the kindle) is our "access ramp" to the written world.

Please follow this link to http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/dyslexiaandkindle/ and when it is ready I will send it to amazon and the publishers that have taken this route of disabling text to speech.

I will update this post to let you know of the outcome.



  1. Simon. I found your post online while looking for information on the kindle. I am in the same position as you and avoid reading books as it makes me frustrated when I read. I was going to get a kindle as I thought it could be a solution I can make text bigger and read it easier. But then I found out about the text to speech function which would be a god send to people like us. But on reading your post it dose not work as people like publishers and amazon disable the function putting us back to the same problem and having spent a fortune on a bit of kit to help us which dose not! I have been watching in my area as they spend money elevating kerbs at bus stops to male it easier for people disabled and elderly to get on a bus. If you are an employer you have to spend money making the workplace disability friendly like access ramps, lifts, specific IT equipment etc. (I do agree that we should be doing this) but what about my disability. When I was at school the teachers called me an idiot and would shout at me for not doing good at reading spelling my parents complained but I still suffered. For to long dislexic people have suffered through education and life and this one little thing could help children and adults alike. Did your potition help any please let me know and if nothing has been done to fix this issue I will take it further! Ian

  2. Hi Ian,

    I contacted the disability minister who replied. She had said that they are looking into this but as it stands it is still up to the publishers to decide. Although it seems that more publishes are allowing the text-to speech function on the Kindle.

    At the moment I have finished about 25 books this year alone. That is about 24 more than what I would have done previously.

    I have noticed that more and more books have got the text to speech enabled. I would say about 70%-80% of books. So it seems that more and more publishes and authors are accepting that text to speech is ok.

    I would buy one if you suffer like I do. I love my kindle and I love being able to read/listen to books I would have (before) looked at on the book shelf.

    If my post put of off from buying one I would hate that!

    Kind Regards

    Simon Brownridge