Visually Impaired? Check for these helpful ebook reader features

When choosing an ebook reader is there such a thing as a perfect fit?

Most people I know have multiple devices, usually a phone, e-ink device or tablet, they alternate between dependent on need ie, circumstances, type of ebook etc. All have their pros and cons. However, as the majority of these users have good vision, then all the aforementioned devices are likely to be, if not a perfect fit, then at least a good fit.

So what makes a good fit if you’re a visually impaired user?

It’s important to note that for many VI users, access to ebooks is a major step forward in terms of both reading accessibility and choice. However, certain ebook reader features can definitely help with the reading experience, so it may be useful to check which of the features listed below is available on the device.

(As part of the checklist compilation activity, I tested an iPad and 2 Kindles: my Kindle keyboard, and a Kindle Touch -the only 2 e-ink Kindle models with audio capabilities)

I’ve included a PDF version of the checklist at the bottom of the post, for access in larger form.

Checklist of  ebook reader features useful for VI access

Checklist of useful VI ebook reader features

*navigation mechanisms

  • iPad -Table of contents (TOC), Search, slider, move to page, Xray with Kindle app and ebooks.
  • Kindle Keyboard: TOC, Search, button activated move by chapter function (dependent on book), move to location.
  • Kindle Touch: TOC, Search, finger swipe move by chapter function (dependent on book), move to location, Xray.

Download file :Checklist of ebook reader features useful for VI access

Productivity Reflections

Picture of new column view organisation of files and folders

New organisation of files and folders

Pic of how files and documents were originally organised

Original organisation of files and folders

(Clicking on the pictures enables full size view)

When asked what was the best advice she’s ever received, in an article about how she worked, Tessa Miller from Lifehackers, said her dad told her: ‘In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. Always begin, again and again. (An idea from Shunryu Suzuki’s classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.)’

This idea certainly resonated with me when working through the ITR12 Unit 5 on Productivity. When it comes to things we do routinely, we all tend to fall into the familiar pattern and then rarely question if there could be a better way of doing them.

Obviously there is some advantage to this, in that doing something we’re accustomed to takes very little of our effort or thought. However, when it comes to technology, where things are being so constantly expanded, updated and improved, we could be doing ourselves a disadvantage.

The Eye-Opener
Oddly enough, this most obviously became apparent to me when doing what seems like one of the more ordinary set Unit tasks: reviewing the way the documents and files related to the course were sorted out.

When I started using my Mac (about 6/7 years ago) I’d opted for a list view, and either used sorting by name or date to find them. With my Load2Learn course work and links, I’d simply loosely sorted each Units work into a designated blue folder and followed the usual routine when trying to relocate anything I wanted. (see pic at top left hand side of post for the original layout).

Not an ineffective way of doing things, but certainly as I found out, a limited way, and one that, it became apparent, had actually become inefficient and was actually costing me time and effort.  

Just through being asked to review this habitual practice, (and effectively put myself in the ‘mind frame of a beginner’), I’ve discovered how many more, very useful options there are available.

(Clicking on the pictures enables full size view)

Now, if I want to: change my viewing options, so it’s simpler to follow a file/document pathway- I can do it; sort by kind of document – I can do it; change the size of text of file and documents –it can be done; colour code my files to make them more distinct – I can do that as well. And these are just a few of the available options that are now making how I work easier (see pic at top right hand side of post for the new organization of Load2Learn coursework).

From Little Things……..

So how’s this going to influence how I work in a wider context?

It’s made me realize that an organisational skills programme for pupils with a visual impairment definitely needs to include a component on organization of work within IT –something I’d never really considered before, but which I now see is important.

It’s also flagged up how critical it is to regularly consider any of my customary support programmes, but particularly when related to IT, and ask ‘Is this working – is there now something available that means it could be done better’.

Links

If you’d like some ideas about files and how to organise them, then the following Load2Learn video is a good place to start

Organizing downloaded files – L2L Screencast