This is an overview of a presentation given by Fiona Dunn at BCAB’s TechABreak 2017 weekend.
Amazon first brought out the Kindle device which was not accessible to blind people. Then the Amazon Fire tablets were released which now run a variant of Android. Some Amazon stuff didn’t talk properly at that time.
Now Amazon Fire products come with VoiceView which is the giant retailer’s screenreader. I use this device for reading books, and my Fire has a Micro SD Card with 64GB of storage which cost around £20. This is the seventh generation model which has the speaker on the back rather than the eight, which has stereo speakers positioned on the side. RNIB OverDrive will work on here if you choose to use this.
An Amazon Fire is really cheap because it is a buying machine, a great way to get you to purchase their products. You can get cheaper books through Amazon’s daily deals etc. Most books are on Kindle, and this includes textbooks.
This device was a long time in coming, and we can get so many books compared to 10 years ago. More people are also using audio now, including sighted people.
To turn on speech out of the box, press and hold the power button for a few seconds. Wait for the unit to boot, press the power button again until you hear a chime. Then put two fingers on the screen, slightly apart and roughly in the middle, and VoiceView will allow you to finish setup.
The Home button is at the bottom middle of the screen. The device has the Silk Browser which is ok. The App Store is the Amazon one.
This device gives you the full status at once rather than the iPhone’s doing it in part. (Editor’s note: it will read out battery, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi status at once rather than the individual elements of your choosing on Smart devices.)
On this device, you can look up downloaded books or all books. There is a double-tap navigation drawer giving a list of options. Kindle Unlimited offers books for £7.99 a month and is a library for borrowing up to 10 books. The daily deals are £0.99, other books are more expensive from a fiver upwards. You can download a sample of a book before buying it. Check when getting a book that it is screenreader supported. You can also hear an Audible sample, and you can also buy the Audible narration as well by ticking a box.
You can download the popular ITV Hub from the App Store on this device. How many people have got annoyed with ITV not having Audio Description? The Fire does have AD. The first category on the ITV Hub is Audio Described programmes and this is the cheapest way to get Audio Description on ITV.
Amazon Music is available, which includes all music you have bought. You can shuffle all your songs.
You can go into Audible then audio books, select the book and choose play, chapter navigation, narration speed and sleep timer.
In summary, hopefully that’s given you an overview of the Fire products. There is a lot more access to books nowadays, as well as Amazon Music, and you can buy Audible books as an extra when buying some Kindle titles.
You can also use a Braille display with the Fire and mute the speech too.
A useful help page that gets you going with the Fire can be found at
And remember that the Fire products have a VoiceView tutorial built into them.