Amazon made its announcement about a new tablet-like device that will allow people to consume variety of content including books, videos, apps, games, and web sites. I had hoped that, unlike previous releases of Kindle devices, Amazon would have included accessibility for Kindle Firefor people with disabilities right from its design phase. Alas! Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling after learning that there is no built-in accessibility for people with disabilities in this newly announced product. As a blind consumer who wants access to the nearly one million-book Kindle catalog or access to the 10 thousand plus instant video selections on a mobile device, I am angry.
Yes. I am absolutely angry. I am sick and tired of companies with billions of dollars in revenue taking the market of people with disabilities for granted. I am sick and tired of them thinking that we’re not important enough to be the “target” when the device or software is being developed for the first time. I am sick and tired of companies like Amazon passing on the blame on the lack of accessibility on other parties. I am sick and tired of these companies claiming that they are not being allowed to “innovate” if we ask them to create accessible products. What happened to accessibility being thought of as innovation in and of itself? What happened to servicing the customer’s needs?
I know that some people will claim that Amazon did not provide accessibility to the Kindle Fire because the underlying Android platform does not have sufficient support. Frankly, I could care less. It was a choice—a deliberate choice for technical and other reasons. Why did those technical reasons not include accessibility as part of the decision making process? I expect the overlying Kindle Fire interface to be as accessible as I expect the Samsung, Motorola, or HTC interface to be accessible on a phone or a tablet device.
Amazon has never considered people with disabilities as an important part of its market. Nor has it taken accessibility seriously for its previous generation of Kindle devices. The little accessibility work that it has done is lacking in seriousness. This fact is quite evident in its web site design as well as development of the Kindle software for devices such as the iPhone. There is no excuse for Amazon to have not built in accessibility on a platform which, by all accounts, provides one of the best support for people with disabilities. If Amazon had shown a concerted effort and a steady progress, then I would be willing to cut them some slack. But they have had ample time to consider these issues carefully and look at accessibility.
So yes, I’m angry. I’m angry at hearing excuses. I’m angry at seeing a consistent pattern. I’m angry at Amazon’s defense. And, I’m incredibly angry with people defending Amazon because they happened to have chosen Android.
And, because I’m so angry, I’m going to suggest a course of action to all people with disabilities who will not be able to use Kindle Fire. I want everyone to go out and order a Kindle fire. I want all to cancel that order. In the section that allows you to tell Amazon the reason why, let them know that you’re cancelling because there is no accessibility. Let Amazon see how much money they could be gaining. Let them know how much loyalty they’re losing. Because of this, I have just cancelled my Amazon Prime subscription. I will find my products somewhere else,