Amazon announces accessibility upgrades to Alexa app for people with vision impairments
Multinational technology company Amazon is announcing an update to the Alexa app, including light and dark modes and text scaling for improved accessibility.
Alexa is artificial intelligence (AI) technology, created by Amazon, that enables people to carry out a range of tasks through Alexa-enabled devices, such as creating shopping lists, playing music, getting medication reminders and asking for the weather forecast.
The Alexa app allows people to set up their Alexa-enabled devices and talk to Alexa when the app is open.
Now, Amazon has unveiled a new accessibility update on the app, which includes:
- Light and dark modes: Using their mobile device settings, users can choose between light and dark modes for benefits like increased readability and colour contrast. Dark mode will offer benefits such as screen viewing comfort in low-light environments and improved device battery life, while light mode will offer better readability and colour contrast that stands out in high-light environments. The Alexa app will default to light or dark mode, depending on the user’s mobile settings.
- Text scaling for improved accessibility: Users can set their device’s font size to be larger than the standard size. This means the individual will see larger text on most screens of the Alexa app proportional to their preferred accessibility setting. This can be especially helpful for people with certain vision impairments.
These new app features are currently being rolled out on iOS devices worldwide and both will be coming soon on Android devices.
Dennis Stansbury, Amazon’s UK Head of Alexa, told AT Today: “The new Alexa app update with text scaling and light and dark modes builds on Alexa’s current accessibility features to help everyone feel more connected, more entertained and more independent.
“Following the launch of Alexa Show and Tell and the Alexa Accessibility Hub, we hope that these Alexa App updates will make life easier for our blind and partially sighted customers.”
All existing Alexa app users are expected to have access to the update by the end of the month, the company has confirmed, which will default to the user’s mobile settings.
In December, Amazon launched the Alexa Show and Tell feature in the UK, which is designed to help blind and partially sighted people identify common household grocery items. The voice-command feature helps users identify items that are hard to distinguish by touch, such as canned or boxed foods.