Good news, everyone! Barnes & Noble’s Nook app for iOS has just been updated with support for Apple’s fantastic VoiceOVer accessibility feature, as well as the zoom functionality. This brings the Nook iOS app up to parity with iBooks, the only other iOS e-reader app that can be used by folks with a visual impairment or learning disability to have books read out loud.
Zoom lets those with low vision see the screen at much higher magnification than just increasing the font size, allowing them to use the buttons, icons, and other visual interface systems that they can’t see at the standard size on the iPad or iPhone screen.
The new update 3.3.0 also brings new support for British English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish languages, new UK ebook and magazine support, and also the new, longer iPhone 5 screen size.
Nook and Kindle ereader devices are still less accessible, with no text-to-speech capabilities, making the app on an iPad an ideal device for anyone who needs the option to have their device read a book out loud to them. VoiceOver does not include word-by-word or line-by-line highlighting, which can be beneficial to people with some types of learning disabilities, this is an important first step in making reader apps more accessible to all kinds of people.
The VoiceOver feature, is built into both OS X on the Mac and iOS, will read anything on the screen, including buttons, dialog boxes, alerts, and the like. It’s proven to be a popular feature with blind and low vision users.
Of course, now we’re waiting for Amazon’s reader app to follow suit. Says accessibility site, Maccessibility, “This is an enormous leap forward for the accessibility of books to blind and visually impaired readers. There is only one of the three major ebook players on iOS left without VoiceOver support. (We are looking at you, Amazon Kindle).”