Meet Eugene Iwanski
“I first got the Kindle for reading books, but it became a whole lot more,” says Access Fund client Eugene Iwanski. “It’s the first time in fifty years that I can sit and read for hours.” Gene has come to the Access Fund for help with several technology purchases over the past few years – the first being the Victor Reader Stream and most recently, the Kindle DX.
Gene actually purchased the Kindle 2 before he moved up to the DX. “I got the Kindle2 because that was what Amazon had put out at the time. It was the only option. Later, I posted to the Kindle Board, explained my needs and asked for recommendations. Someone responded by posting pictures of the DX and I knew it would better fit my needs; screen size and contrast were really important features. When I got the Kindle2, it was more out of ‘infatuation’, but with the DX it was a much more ‘informed’ decision.” While he does miss the smaller size and weight of the Kindle2, Gene can do so much more with the DX.
One of the most exciting and helpful features is the ability to download materials via his free membership in Bookshare. Bookshare is an online library that provides accessible books (including text books) and periodicals for readers with print disabilities. This has always been a great service but now that Gene is able to get them on the Kindle, it is even more helpful!
Technology has certainly come a long way. When Gene visited the Access Fund, he brought a netbook bag packed neatly with an amazing array of devices to show us. Virtually nothing in that bag was available thirty years ago, including: portable speakers, an LED lighted portable magnifier, headphones as well as noise-cancelling earbuds, a digital camera, XM satellite radio, Victor Stream Reader, an iPod, a pen (probably the only item that was around 30 years ago!), FM radio plug-in for his iPod, rechargeable battery back-ups, flexible USB connectors, a flashdrive and a digital watch.
While technology continues to provide opportunities for a more inclusive and accessible world for people with disabilities, Gene made some great observations:
“The times we are in are about going beyond just getting information to people but constantly entertaining. With that focus, it is hard to keep up with accessibility. A lot of people are looking into multi-functional devices, which can be great for some. But what multi-function means to me is…compromise. Having limited vision, I’d rather have multiple devices that do different functions exceptionally well than one device that can do multiple things only so-so. I don’t need video on the Kindle, it would lose its readability for me. While the dog-eared corners to turn pages are fun on touch-screen devices, it’s no substitute for a good reader.”
As a well versed technology-enthusiast, Gene, of course, has suggestions for the DX. His wish list includes: more font choices, a better keyboard design, Bluetooth compatibility for easier note taking, support for ePub books (the format used by public libraries) and a better web browser. There have been some improvements to the newest edition, the Kindle3.
Whether the Kindle3 or DX is a good solution for any particular individual depends, of course, upon their particular disability. The new Kindles have added an audio menu which can be turned on in the settings. You can learn more about the Kindle’s accessibility features and compare it to other e-readers at ireaderreview and by checking out Washington Assistive Technology Act Program’s (WATAP) Review Part 1 and Part 2. WATAP currently has both the Kindle 3 and the DX for people to try out.