[Athen] Disappointed with Kindle app for student needs

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Sat Apr 11 16:36:00 PDT 2020

Nothing you can do, I was just disappointed. It wasn’t a freedom scientific app it was a demo of the Kindle app. I just had hoped it was less limited and that I had not discovered all the features.

I have tools for removing DRM from my own books but not for my students’ books; often I can’t get to their books anyway if they are on an ebook platform because they end up bundled with a course.

But sometimes I can and when that happens I zap the drm and try to get in some structure.


From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Wink Harner
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2020 6:21 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Disappointed with Kindle app for student needs


This is coming from someone experienced in document and alt-text conversion. I'm sure others will pipe in with other solutions.

If *I* were working on your behalf, I would download the Kindle book, undo the DRM locks, and with a copy of the textbook (hard copy or pdf of hard copy), use Caliber to convert it to a different e-book format for you, or convert it to a text file and then add the page numbering that corresponds to the book or add an inline reference separated with extra line feeds and brackets to indicate which e-page corresponds to which actual page of the book. The index would be based on the bracket page numbers and chapter breaks allowing you to navigate either from the front chapter & section listing or simply by searching for the "open bracket, page number, close bracket search feature. (that is a thing, right?

It's more complex of course than my simple explanation here but my point is really that unless the kindle app FS is pushing actually indexes the actual textbook page numbers, the students who are using JAWS or NVDA to access their college textbooks will, as you experienced, get hopelessly lost.

Reading for pleasure is a different beast altogether, as you can set bookmarks and can read at leisure. Students need more structure and pagination that matches both the textbooks and the syllabus assignments.

Perhaps not much specific help since your concern was related to Freedom Scientific and their app.

Is there something the rest of us in the alt-text hive can do to help?

Wink Harner
Accessibility Consultant/Alternative Text Production
The Foreign Type
Portland OR
foreigntype at gmail.com<mailto:foreigntype at gmail.com>
This email was dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Please forgive quirks, misrecognitions, or errata .

On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 2:07 PM Deborah Armstrong <armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu<mailto:armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu>> wrote:
I’m a big Kindle fan but I mostly read for fun. When I do read for classes it was typically history or literature, books that had to be read chronologically.

Yesterday Freedom scientific did a training on the Kindle app for the PC. I was really hoping to learn something new, but I didn’t.

For people just getting started, it shows how to navigate the library, find a specific book and filter for only those downloaded to the PC.

Freedom scientific’s trainer showed how to move by line character and word, plus how to set and retrieve a bookmark.

For searching they showed how to locate a particular “page” or a phrase within the book. Also they showed how to locate a specific book in the library.

Note that all these keystrokes also work with NVDA.

This took them literally only ten minutes because it’s a few simple keystrokes – but that’s it!

Pages in Kindle books have nothing to do with the printed pages in the hardcover or softcover equivalent. Chapters and subsections don’t always start at a page boundary. The say all (read from the cursor until I tell you to stop) doesn’t work on my app and I noticed it wasn’t mentioned in the training!

So though this fluffy overview is a really nice start, the app isn’t going to be robust enough for anyone who needs to use a screen reader or magnification to locate sections in a book. And I have no idea if other apps like k3000 can work with this app but I suspect they cannot.

I was optimistically hoping that any issues I had with the app were caused by my own ignorance. Looks like they were not!

As much as I love using my Kindle and related apps for recreational reading, I find it super frustrating that there aren’t more navigation possibilities.

For your beginners, the training is archived here:


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Wink Harner Assistive Technology Consulting and Training Alternative Text Production Portland OR. foreigntype at gmail.com<mailto:foreigntype at gmail.com> 480-984-0034
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