According to the World Health Organization, some 1.3 billion people—one in six of us—currently experience a significant disability. And that fact is at the heart of Amazon’s approach to designing devices and services like Alexa.
For over a decade, Amazon has worked with world experts on disability and accessibility, and advocated for accessible design throughout the company.
To understand more about how Amazon approaches accessibility, here are some of Amazon’s accessibility innovations:
AlexaEye Gaze on Alexa
One of the newest accessibility features to roll out to Amazon devices is Eye Gaze on Alexa. This feature is our first foray in supporting customers with mobility or speech disabilities to use Alexa to take pre-set actions on Fire Max 11 tablets by using their eyes. For customers who are unable to tap or use their voice, Eye Gaze on Alexa will work with Tap to Alexa to take specific actions, or help them communicate with caretakers or loved ones.
Coming soon, Call Translation is the first hands-free feature that leverages Alexa’s AI to allow customers who may have hearing disabilities, or speak different languages, to have their Alexa audio and video calls translated in real time. This not only allows customers to communicate across languages, but also allows customers with hearing disabilities to communicate with loved ones, as they get live call captioning.
Amazon DevicesVoice Access
Another new addition is Voice Access, available on the Fire HD Tablet 10 (2023). Voice Access allows customers to virtually select any item on the screen with voice commands, including support for quick control of common actions such as turning the page of a book or controlling playback. For customers with motor impairments, Voice Access offers an intuitive and efficient method of interacting with the tablet. Voice Access is available all device languages, but only accepts voice commands in English. Customers can find and enable Voice Access in device settings under Accessibility. Alternatively, customers can also chose to control their Fire Tablets via compatible Bluetooth devices.
Screen Magnifier on Fire TV
The Screen Magnifier lets users zoom in to view the user interface more easily on their smart TV, while still showing the magnified view’s context in the upper right corner of the screen.
“Usually when you have a screen magnifier, it’s like looking through a straw, so you get a very narrow view of the screen, and you don’t have a lot of context,” said Mark Tamura, a senior software engineer at Amazon. “What we did with Fire TV was allow you to magnify and not have to pan around or be detached from what’s happening on the screen.”
Kindle Reading Ruler
Reading Ruler in the Kindle app is one of many accessibility features supporting readers and authors. It highlights the text in an eBook, making it easier for a reader to keep track of their place. Other features include the ability to adjust line spacing, font sizes, types, and weights, control screen brightness, invert or change background colors, and pair your Kindle e-reader with high-quality narration from Audible.
VoiceView screen reader
VoiceView speaks on-screen text out loud on all Amazon devices with screens, which helps people who are blind or with low vision navigate to their device. VoiceView is available on Fire Tablets, Echo Show devices, and Kindle devices (including the Kindle mobile app).
Prime VideoAudio descriptionDevices Accessibility - Prime Video with captions (audio described)
An audio description provides an additional spoken audio track that supplements the main movie to describe what's happening on screen for someone who is blind or has low vision. Amazon has the world’s largest catalog of audio-described movies— this includes content that comes with a Prime Video membership and on-demand content that’s available for purchase).
Dialogue Boost on Prime Video
The first capability of its kind, Dialogue Boost analyzes the original audio in a movie or series and intelligently identifies points where dialogue may be hard to hear above background music and effects. Then, the feature isolates speech patterns and enhances audio to make the dialogue clearer. This AI-based approach delivers a targeted enhancement to portions of spoken dialogue, instead of a general amplification at the center channel in a home theater system.