Ebooks can be read in a number of ways on various different devices, from dedicated ebook readers to computers and mobile phones.
Adobe Digital Editions is software often needed to buy, borrow and read ebooks and other digital publications. The latest version of Adobe Digital Editions provides improved support for accessibility with: enhanced keyboard support, additional text magnification, support for high-contrast mode and screen reader support.
The Amazon Kindle 3 ebook reading device has a text-to-speech feature for ebook content and a setting called 'VoiceGuide', which reads out the device's menus using synthetic speech. However this text-to-speech feature is not currently switched on for all titles but RNIB are working hard to ensure it is. None of the previous Amazon Kindle ebook readers offer text to speech or can be used with screen readers.
The Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch all have a built-in screen reader called 'VoiceOver', which works in conjunction with Apple's iBooks ebook reading app. This allows you to navigate around the ebook menus, download and read ebooks, and navigate around your ebooks all using text to speech.
If you use a refreshable braille display, it may be possible to use it with ebook reading software on your computer or mobile phone to read your ebooks.
Adobe Digital Editions 1.8 can be used with braille displays.
The Amazon Kindle platform is not currently interoperable with refreshable braille displays.
The iPhone supports most bluetooth braille displays, so you can read ebooks from Apple's iBooks app this way.
Most ebook readers allow you to increase the text size of ebook content, but not the menus.
Text reflow and magnifciation
Most ebook readers have anything from five to ten font sizes. The settings are generally expressed as 'Small', 'Medium', 'Large', and so on, rather than in font size. When increasing the font size, the text usually reflows (adapts to the size of the screen so you don't have to scroll from left to right). However, if you need a larger font size than what is available a 'zoom' or magnification feature may be available to you. Generally, when using these features, the text does not reflow. Furthermore, increasing the font size of PDFs can be problematic: it may not result in a consistent appearance.
The screens on dedicated ebook readers currently range in size from five inches to nearly ten inches. If you feel this would be too small for you to comfortably read an ebook at your required font size, you may find it easier to read ebooks on your computer or laptop.
Changing colour and contrast
Ebook reading devices
Most dedicated ebook readers currently try to replicate the appearance of a print book with 'e-ink' screens. These screens are currently gray-scale only, though colour e-ink will be available in the future. The screens are generally not backlit, so they have low glare, but recent technology shows a marked improvement in contrast between the text and background. Some devices also allow you to adjust the contrast and brightness.
Ebook reading software
Many ebook reading software programs allow you to invert the text and to adjust the brightness and contrast. However, none of the ebook readers currently available for new, protected ebooks allow you to personalise the colour scheme to your choosing.