The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has called for ebooks to be made more accessible for blind consumers. Ahead of this year’s Read for the RNIB Day on Friday October 19th, the RNIB is arguing that not enough is being done to ensure ebooks can be accessed using speech functions, and claims that only 7% of all books are accessible to blind consumers in the UK.
The issue of text-to-speech technology hit headlines in September when the new Paperwhite Kindles were revealed to be lacking the TTS / Read To Me technology that was previously used by blind people to have ebooks read to them. Blind users can still use a number of other devices and programs, of course, but it did seem to be a retrograde step when Amazon went backwards in this regard rather than (as many had predicted) making advances.
The digital revolution should have made it much easier for blind people to access the latest books, but it seems as if the possibilities of new technology aren’t being fully realised at present. Perhaps companies don’t see this as being a good source of profits, but there are around 2m people in the UK alone who suffer from serious sight issues, and it’s clear that their needs aren’t being fully met.