E-Readers Galore! Accessible Holiday Gifts

E-readers (also known as e-book readers) are portable devices used to display e-books, and lately the market has exploded with several different varieties.  Let’s take a closer look at the accessibility features in these new products!

Amazon’s Kindle

Amazon first released its e-reader in 2007.  Since then, they have put out a couple more versions of this device.  The Kindle 2 came out in February 2009 for $359, which was eventually reduced to $259.  Of course, you can test out a Kindle for FREE at the INDATA Loan Library to try it before you buy it.  Some accessibility benefits:

  • You can access 360,000 books and download one in less than a minute using AT&T 3G wireless
  • Text-to-speech software
  • The library can hold 1,500 books
  • Easy to use 5-way controller
  • Adjustable text size and image zoom

The Sony Reader

Sony made its first reader available in 2006.  Today, 3 versions are on the market: the Touch Edition, the Daily Edition, and the Pocket Edition.  The Touch Edition includes the following accessibility features:

  • Take notes by writing directly on the screen with either a stylus or your finger
  • Check out books from libraries for 2 weeks through electronic publication
  • Sony e-bookstore contains approximately 200,000 titles
  • Expandable memory available (sold separately)

ClassMate Reader

HumanWare offers a portable e-reader specifically designed for students who have difficulty reading.  ClassMate Reader claims to have the ability to improve students’ vocabulary, comprehension, and even increase their reading speed.  You can also check out this device at the INDATA Loan Library! It features the following:

  • Speaking dictionary with over 25,000 words
  • Both text and voice note taking available, with capability to extract onto a PC
  • Natural sounding voices for text to speech application
  • Plays several book formats, such as DAISY, Bookshare.org, MP3s, and more
ClassMate Reader
ClassMate Reader


Barnes & Noble recently created a lot of buzz about its new e-reader, Nook.  Made available in late November for $259, this device sold out quickly this holiday season, but you can “get in line” to order one in January.  Some accessibility pros:

  • Over one million books available
  • Full color touchscreen
  • Adjustable text size, E-Ink display (to make screen look more like a book for easy reading)
  • Browse library by book covers

These are just a few of the popular e-readers existing today.  Be sure to check out Alex from Spring Design, QUE from Plastic Logic, and DR800SG from IREX Technologies.  You can read our blog post on the Intel Reader here –  another product that was recently added to the INDATA Loan Library.

E-readers offer accessibility to people with vision impairment, learning disabilities, and book lovers in general.  They are convenient as a mobile device that makes a wonderful substitute for lugging around heavy textbooks, while providing fast access to a large amount of material.

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