Alexa Accessibility – Make more possible with Alexa
Amazon recently launched the Alexa Accessibility Hub, a new website that serves as a central resource for customers to learn more about Alexa Accessibility features, how-tos, and customer stories. Alexa offers many features that can help people of all abilities be more connected, more entertained, and more independent, including Alexa Captioning, Real Time Text, Show and Tell, VoiceView Screen Reader, Tap to Alexa and voice control for smart home devices. They continue to build new features and offerings with all customers in mind, which you can find on this new site.
You can find more information on the website, as well as customer stories here. Additionally, for more information about accessibility features they offer across Amazon, see here.
Alexa continues to open possibilities and new ways to experience the world. Alexa’s accessibility features are helping people be more connected, more entertained, and more independent.
This is Alexa for everyone
For useful reminders. For reaching out to friends and family. For help in the kitchen. For making your day a little easier. Explore how Alexa’s accessibility features can fit into your life.
Discover paths to accessibility
Communicate and stay connected
Voice control can help unlock more ways to get things done.
Get help from Alexa without using speech.
Find new ways to get the information you need.
Communicate and stay connected with Alexa.
“Alexa, speak slower”
Customers can now adjust the speed of Alexa’s speech
Customers in the U.S. can ask Alexa to speak slower or speak faster, enabling Alexa to adapt to a diverse set of customer needs. Whether customers ask Alexa for the weather, the latest news, a sports update, about an upcoming event on their calendar, or for a definition, they can now choose from seven speeds – Alexa’s standard speaking rate, four faster speaking rates, and two slower speaking rates. Simply say, “Alexa, speak slower,” or “Alexa, speak faster” to adjust Alexa’s speech to the preferred pace on any Alexa-enabled device. To reset Alexa’s speaking rate, simply say, “Alexa, speak at your default rate.”
They care deeply about customer feedback and consider it an essential part of the development process. They always aim to design and build products that are useful and engaging for customers, and they work to incorporate their feedback as they continue to evolve their experiences.
“We heard from customers that they would like the ability to change Alexa’s speaking rate for a variety of reasons. Some of our customers who are hard of hearing and older shared how they love talking to Alexa and how she has become a companion but sometimes they would like her to slow down so they can better understand her responses. On the other hand, some of our customers who are blind or low vision are used to consuming audio content and want to be able to listen more quickly,” said Sarah Caplener, head of Alexa for Everyone. “We’re thrilled to introduce this feature to help customers further personalize their interactions with Alexa, and adapt the experience to best fit their individual needs. We’re humbled by the initial response to this feature from customers who helped us build this and look forward to continuing to deliver impactful features for all our customers.”
They gave a handful of customers and employees early access to the feature and are encouraged by the responses they’ve received thus far.
“I found the increased rate to be very pleasing, and it improved the efficiency of my interactions with Alexa,” said Tom, a finance professional. “Now that Alexa has the ability to speak faster, my conversations feel more natural. I enjoy more Q&A interactions such as ‘Alexa, tell me how old the earth is,’ or ‘Alexa, tell me about the history of Buddhism.'”
“There are many people, including myself, who are hard of hearing and the ability to slow Alexa down changes the way we use and understand her,” said Jerry. “Sometimes, I’d ask about the cast of a movie and she would go way too fast… even when I say ‘good morning’ to her, she talks way too fast. When I ask questions where she has to list things, I would try to avoid those questions. I would consider this new feature of adjusting the speed a real bonus for me.”
“When we ask her about the Question of the Day, she goes so fast! We’re impressed at how easy it is to slow her down, so it’ll be great not to have to ask her to repeat herself multiple times. We aren’t ‘techy’ people, but we like that we can use our Alexa device and feel connected to her, so we definitely appreciate the ease-of-use of this feature,” said Amazon customers Alicia and Ron.
Closed Captioning converts the audio content of a video broadcast into text (subtitles). You can customize how the text appears on Prime Video and other supported video content.
Use Alexa to buy and reorder products on Amazon.com.
Get help from Alexa without using speech
With the Real Time Text feature, Alexa adds a live, real-time chat feed during Alexa calls and Drop Ins.
Tap to Alexa
On supported Echo devices, once you enable Tap to Alexa, you can use Alexa without your voice by tapping the touchscreen to access helpful features like the weather, news, timers, and other information.
Once Tap to Alexa is enabled on your Echo Show device, Alexa can be used to make calls and send messages without speech. It’s a useful tool for people with speech impairments, or even for those not wanting to disturb others around them by speaking too loudly.
Real Time Text
Real Time Text is a feature that adds a live, real-time chat feed during Alexa calls, and Drop Ins made from Echo Show devices. When Real Time Text is on, a keyboard pops up on the screen, enabling customers to type text which appears in real time on both parties’ screens. This feature makes it easier for customers with speech impairments, or for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing, to communicate with their contacts by typing during a call.
Alexa can help identify products with Show and Tell
Just ask, “Alexa, what am I holding?” on Echo Show devices.
“The whole idea for Show and Tell came about from feedback from blind and low vision customers,” said Sarah Caplener, head of Amazon’s Alexa for Everyone team. “We heard that product identification can be a challenge and something customers wanted Alexa’s help with. Whether a customer is sorting through a bag of groceries, or trying to determine what item was left out on the counter, we want to make those moments simpler by helping identify these items and giving customers the information they need in that moment.”
From early research and exploration through product development and testing, Caplener’s team collaborated with the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Santa Cruz, California. For Show and Tell, they enlisted customers who are blind or have low vision for user studies, providing feedback to the Alexa for Everyone team. “It’s critical for us that we’re working with our customers, building with them, not just building for them,” explained Caplener.
Vista Center community member Brett Fowler lost his vision at age 10. The stay-at-home dad loves to cook, but he notes that he has trouble identifying things like spices. Fowler says the Show and Tell feature on the Echo Show is a game changer. “All of these devices that are acting as your eyes, it’s revolutionary. For me, the less stress I have to put on somebody else is less stress on me. And it makes me feel good.”
Amazon believes in starting from the customer and working backwards, a philosophy also applied to inventing and using their technology resources for good. That means paying attention to what all of their customers are telling them.
Show and Tell
Show and Tell helps people who are blind or low vision use any Echo Show to identify common packaged food goods that are hard to distinguish by touch, such as canned or boxed foods. You can simply say, “Alexa, what am I holding?” or “Alexa, what’s in my hand?” to get started. Alexa will provide verbal and audio cues to help you place the item in front of the device’s camera.
VoiceView is a screen reader included with Echo devices with a screen. When enabled, VoiceView allows those who are blind or have impaired vision to use gestures to navigate the device while VoiceView reads aloud the actions made on screen.