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Easy Access to Books and Articles Through a Smart Speaker (W)

Access to reading through a smart speaker opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars May 13th saw a session focused on reading experiences via Smart Speakers and how this has been a game-changer for many already.

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Full Video of the Webinar


  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • JoAnna Hunt—Amazon
  • Kiran Kaja—Google
  • Scott White—NFB Newsline
  • Thomas Bryan & Geraldine Lewis—BLVNZ
  • Sarah Chin & Jarek Beksa—Sonnar

Session Overview

JoAnna Hunt opened this session with an excellent overview of work at Amazon on Alexa, Kindle and Audible and how Alexa can support reading experiences via both. Alexa has the ability to read any book from the kindle library in multiple languages and in local accents, at various speeds. Sync’d perfectly with your other devices, you can easily navigate and pick up where you left off. In addition Audible offers professionally narrated audio books directly through Alexa with the same features available as with your kindle.

Kiran Kaja introduced us to the Google Assistant—your own personal google which will help you across all of your google devices. Google Play Books allows the reader to listen to audio books on speakers, smart displays and on your mobile phone and will read web pages and news when commanded. Available in 42 languages and with speed adjustment features, the Google Assistant offers a multi-faceted reading experience.

Scott White from The National Federation of the Blind introduced us to NFB Newsline and gave us a terrific live demo of how to read the New York Times via Alexa, using Newsline, at various speeds and in several voices. Newsline offers the opportunity to simply ask Alexa to email  a particular article.

Thomas Bryan & Geraldine Lewis gave us an overview of work with smart speakers at Blind Low Vision New Zealand where they have recognized the potential of Alexa to create a library service. Their usability study indicated a number of key findings highlighting the sheer simplicity of the interface and the high level of connectivity that can be achieved for new online users. Support for this new service has been overwhelming with extremely positive feedback.

Sarah Chin & Jarek Beksa, from Sonnar Interactive, were instrumental in helping the team from BLVNZ achieve their goal.  The Sonnar Library offers an all-in-one solution for accessible reading services with a reader, a user and content management system and a content exchange solution that can work with any IT system. Their excellent  live demo ended with an offer for individuals and organizations to access their solution free of charge during the lockdown period.

This session really gave us an overview of how versatile and exciting smart speaker technology can be. Exciting times for anyone working in this field and for readers benefitting from this accessible reading experience.

Related Resources

Links mentioned in the webinar

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Free Webinar: Easy Access to Books and Articles Through a Smart Speaker

May 13th, 2020

The DAISY Consortium has announced the launch of a series of free weekly webinars on accessible publishing and reading in response to the multiple challenges being faced by conferences around the world due to Coronavirus, as well as feedback from the wider DAISY community expressing interest in online training resources.

Nearly a quarter of Americans own at least one voice activated smart speaker, and they are increasingly popular in other countries. How can these easy to use devices with their intelligent assistants help with access to reading books and articles? This webinar will explain the accessibility features of Amazon Echo and Google Assistant, and present case studies of their application for people with print impairments. As well as exploring the technical aspects of configuring such services, we will review user feedback and acceptability of the experiences.


May 13th, 2020 at 3pm UTC


Live online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the May 13th webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page