iOS apps

The iPhone, iPad and iPod touch all use iOS, which has a good accessibility for people with sight loss. There are a number of eBook apps that make use of this accessibility. One point to remember with all of these except for iBooks is that you cannot use the eBook app to buy books, only read them.

iBooks

This is Apple's own eBook reader and, as expected, it works very well with VoiceOver using speech or a Bluetooth Braille device. It also gives access to the iBooks store.

In terms of display options, iBooks has the usual settings.

Visit the iBooks page to find out more.

Kindle

The Kindle app became useable with VoiceOver in 2013. It was the first touch screen version of Kindle to work with a screen reader, and some people prefer it even to iBooks. The Kindle store has the largest number of books for purchase, and they are usually cheaper than on other stores.

In terms of display options, Kindle has the usual settings.

Visit the Kindle apps page to find out more.

Nook

The Nook app became accessible with VoiceOver in 2013. One nice touch is that it includes an accessibility manual that starts automatically the first time you use the app with VoiceOver running. It also appears in the Settings menu while VoiceOver is active, so you can replay it whenever you like. 

Nook has the usual display options, but is unusual in that it also allows you to create your own themes, choosing colours for text, background, links and highlights.

Visit the Nook apps page to find out more.

Kobo

Unlike other eBook apps, the Kobo app for the iPad differs from that for the iPhone and iPod touch. The iPad version looks more like the desktop app, and it is not possible to log into it while VoiceOver is running. It also interrupts itself while reading a book, making it unusable.

The app that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch is usable. Some of the buttons on the menus are poorly labelled, but if all you want to do is open a book and read it, it's fine!

Visit the Kobo apps page to find out more.

VoiceDream Reader

The apps created by the big players in the eBook market - Apple, Amazon, Google and Kobo - are loss leaders intended to make it easier for you to read the books you buy from them. They add protection to their books to prevent piracy, and then create eBook apps for a variety of devices so that you can read them.

Alongside these big players are a host of smaller companies making eBook apps that don't read protected books. Most of these apps are unremarkable, but VoiceDream Reader stands out because it has such good accessibility built into it.

As well as the usual display options it goes beyond even Nook in its options for creating your own themes.

It also allows you to have books read back to you. The other eBook apps mentioned on this page use VoiceOver to do this, and are restricted to the voices that are available in iOS. VoiceDream Reader allows you to buy a large number of other voices from Acapela or NeoSpeech for less than £2 each, and use this if you prefer. You can also choose how words are pronounced, and annotate your documents.

And you can use the display and speech features in conjunction, highlighting the word and line being spoken.

Go to the VoiceDream website for more information

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