As we move towards a more digitized world, Amazon, one of the world's largest e-commerce platforms and digital device providers, is trying to make its offerings accessible to all. From its website to its digital devices, Amazon has incorporated features to make the user experience more seamless for persons with disabilities.
Amazon’s commitment to accessibility
On its accessibility page, Amazon states: “Amazon’s vision is to become Earth’s most customer-centric company. That means making our devices and services accessible to everyone—especially people with disabilities.”
We also recommend checking out Amazon’s video tutorials for step-by-step guidance on how to unbox, set up, and use their accessibility features. Whether you're a new user or an experienced one, these videos can help you make the most of your Amazon devices.
Amazon’s accessibility features
Amazon has made significant efforts to make its devices and digital services accessible to individuals with disabilities. Here are some of Amazon's accessibility features for their various devices and digital services:
Voice Search – The Voice Search option on the Amazon shopping app helps people with disabilities shop faster by allowing them to search for items using voice commands instead of typing.
Alexa – Amazon's popular voice assistant, Alexa, offers a range of accessibility features for individuals with disabilities, including the ability to control devices with voice commands, read books, set reminders, and more.
VoiceView Screen Reader – Kindle e-readers and Fire TV sticks come equipped with a built-in screen reader called VoiceView that reads aloud menus, books, and other content, making it easier to navigate the device.
Text-to-speech – Many of Amazon's devices, including the Kindle and Fire tablets, come with text-to-speech technology that can read books, articles, and other written content aloud for individuals with visual impairments, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities.
Adjustable font sizes and background colors – Amazon's Kindle e-readers allow users to adjust the font size and background color of their reading material, making it easier for people with visual impairments or dyslexia to read.
Screen magnification – This feature in Fire tablet allows users to enlarge the screen up to 200% for easier viewing.
Closed captioning – Amazon Video, Prime Video, Amazon Music, Twitch, and Amazon Freevee (previously known as IMDb TV) provide closed captioning options for their content, allowing users with hearing impairments to follow along with ease. The Fire TV sticks also have closed captioning available on supported video content.
Voice control – Alexa can be used on several devices, including Echo smart speakers, Fire TV, and Fire tablets. This feature allows users to control devices and access information without needing physical input, making it easier for people with mobility or dexterity impairments to use.
Audio descriptions – This feature is available on supported video content for Amazon Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, and Fire TV Edition smart TVs. It provides additional audio narration of visual content for users with visual impairments.
Tips to enhance Amazon accessibility
In addition to making use of existing features, users can adjust settings across Amazon apps and devices to make the experience more accessible and suited to their specific needs.
Amazon Shopping App
Enable Voice Search – Use the microphone icon on the app to search for products using your voice. This feature is especially helpful for people with mobility or dexterity issues.
Adjust text size – You can increase the size of text on the app by going to the Accessibility section of your device settings.
Use a screen reader – The app is compatible with screen readers — like VoiceOver on iOS and TalkBack on Android —
that can read product details and prices.
Enable captions for videos – If you're watching product videos on the app, you can enable closed captions by tapping the CC icon.
Use One-Click Ordering – This feature lets you make purchases with a single click. You can enable it by going to the app settings and selecting “1-Click Ordering.”
Use Alexa integration – If you have an Alexa-enabled device, you can use voice commands to add items to your cart, track orders, and more.
Adjust typeface and font size – Go to Settings > Font & Layout to adjust the font size, type, and line spacing. Choose a larger font size and a more readable font type to make reading more comfortable.
Use text-to-speech – Kindle has a built-in text-to-speech feature that reads books aloud. To activate, simply tap on the screen while reading and then tap on the “play” button.
Enable VoiceView – VoiceView is a screen reader that reads aloud menu options and other text on the Kindle. To activate, press and hold the power button for 9 seconds, and then release it. Once enabled, you can navigate using touch gestures.
Use high contrast mode – To make the text more visible, go to Settings > Accessibility > High Contrast Mode. This will change the background color to black and the text to white.
Use Bluetooth headphones – For those who prefer audio to visual reading, Kindle supports Bluetooth headphones, so you can listen to audiobooks or use text-to-speech without disturbing others.
Amazon Fire TV
Turn on closed captions – Fire TV has the option to turn on closed captions for all content available on the device. It can be helpful for users who are hearing impaired.
Use audio descriptions – Audio Descriptions narrate the on-screen actions, making it easier for people with visual impairments to follow along. This feature is available on select movies and TV shows on Fire TV.
Customize display settings – Fire TV allows you to customize display settings to suit your needs. Adjusting the screen contrast, color, and size can help those with low vision.
Enable VoiceView Screen Reader – VoiceView is a built-in screen reader that reads out the text on the screen, including menu options and titles. To activate it, go to the main menu and select: “Settings” > “Accessibility”. Then turn on “VoiceView Screen Reader.” Once you turn it on, a tutorial will guide you through the basic navigation commands. You can use the remote control or an optional Bluetooth keyboard to navigate and interact with the Fire TV interface.
Adjust audio settings – Fire TV has several audio settings that can be adjusted to improve the listening experience for people with hearing impairments. These include volume leveling and boosting dialogue over background music and sound effects.
Use Alexa for voice control – If you find it difficult to use the remote, you can control Fire TV with your voice using the Alexa voice assistant:
Press and hold the Alexa voice button on your Fire TV remote, or use the Alexa app on your smartphone.
Wait for the blue light on your Fire TV remote to turn on, and listen for a beep. This indicates that Alexa is ready to accept your voice command.
Speak your command clearly and naturally, for example, “Play Stranger Things on Netflix,” or “Open Hulu.”
Alexa will process your command and perform the requested action on your Fire TV.
You can also use Alexa to control playback, adjust volume, and navigate menus with voice commands.
Make sure your Fire TV and Alexa-enabled device are connected to the same network and signed in to the same Amazon account.
Accessibility and the future of e-commerce
The retail giant has made significant strides in providing equal-access features across all of its platforms. With the ever-increasing importance of digital assistive technology, Amazon is setting an example for many other e-Commerce companies to follow. By continuing to provide these features and listening to feedback from users with disabilities, Amazon is making its services more inclusive and creating a better user experience for all.