[Athen] Online eBook Accessibility

Sean Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Wed Mar 26 14:49:46 PDT 2014

Hi Wink,

I started writing a reply and then saw Ken Petri's response, so that saved me a whole lot of writing (thanks, Ken!). Basically, what he said.

What I have been evaluating is the TTS support for students who need the audio component for printed materials, but are not blind. In other words, how does the TTS function for a sighted student who has a print disability. For example, while the iOS Kindle app does support VoiceOver, most LD students have said "no way" to the voice and interaction requirements.

If you have a Kindle Fire and you have purchased the book as both an Audible.com AND Kindle version, then you can take advantage of the Immersion Reader functionality. This will synchronize the Audible.com audio with the Kindle text and you get highlighting with the human narration. Only available on the Kindle Fire platform at this time. LD students have commented that they like this option better due as it does not seem so "mechanical" compared to the blind/low-vision solutions. Of course, there is the slight issue in that Audible.com does not have much in terms of academic textbooks...

To be blunt, I don't think there is any "great" solution right now for online textbook sources as you have limitations with all of them. I think the Vital Source option is one of the better options, but it does depend on other factors, such as the student's technology platform(s), how "accessible" does the reading application and electronic file need to be for their use, what types of notetaking/annotations are desired, etc.

Another option may be to take the electronic version and make *that* accessible to the student in his preferred format. At that point, you can then use whatever reading application you desire. The catch is that you will be dealing with DRM issues before addressing the accessibility portion.

Take care,

On Mar 26, 2014, at 12:27 PM, "Wink Harner" <foreigntype at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi out there in ATHEN-Land,


> Anyone have any first-hand experience with the use of screen readers or TTS readers with online textbook sources such as:

> - Chegg

> - CourseSmart

> - GooglePlay-

> - Kindle

> - Kno

> - Vital Source


> Publisher denied a PDF file and suggested the student purchase one of the electronic versions of the requested book from the sources (above). Student’s preference is PDF, but if he can get the file to read aloud, he may be OK. I have asked him for his preference.


> What experience do any of you have in the TTS capabilities on any of those e-book sources listed?


> Let me know!


> Thanks in advance for your collective knowledge.


> Wink Harner

> foreigntype at gmail.com

> 480-984-0034



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