As TeleRead readers may recall, I mentioned the recent introduction of Amazon VoiceView to the Bellini OS running on Amazon’s Fire tablets. I finally got a chance to try out this accessibility feature, and hear my Fire read e-books back to me. So how well does it work? And how do you make it work?
For one thing, setting up VoiceView is not as simple as it … ahem … sounds. This feature is not just intended for reading e-books back to you – it’s intended to enable complete system-wide navigation and interaction for the Fire. The difficulty with that is that if it’s switched on, you have to use it to navigate all through the Fire. The voice interaction controls may work fine, but they’re also a trial to use if you don’t have to. So I recommend setting up the e-book of your choice ready to read as soon as you activate the VoiceView setting in the Accessibility sub-menu under your Fire’s Settings. And if you need further guidance, Amazon’s full “Guide to Reading Books with VoiceView” is here.
Once VoiceView is activated and you’re back in your e-book, you simply open up the menu at the bottom of the Kindle app screen, and the text to speech menu bar will show. I have to say that “IVONA’s award-winning natural language text-to-speech voices” do sound decidedly mechanical, but they also do the job of reading the text properly remarkably well. I didn’t come across a single actual mispronunciation I could identify in any of the test text I chose (a proof copy of Michael Wehunt’s remarkable Greener Pastures). Despite the sometimes grating tone, I can really recommend it. And it’s free with your Fire, so why not give it a try?