Amazon’s Alexa offers free audiobooks to people with sight loss

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Amazon has introduced a feature to its Alexa virtual assistant that enables blind and partially-sighted people to access thousands of audiobooks for free.

Users of the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) Talking Books service can now access the library via smart speaker and Alexa-enabled devices.

The Talking Books service was first launched in 1935 and is now home to more than 30,000 audiobooks, which today are sent out to customers in CD or USB format or as digital downloads.

The library can now be accessed by asking “Alexa, open RNIB Talking Books”.

“We are extremely pleased to announce that Talking Books customers can now access the 34,000 books in the RNIB Library by asking Alexa,” RNIB director of services, David Clarke, said.

“RNIB’s Talking Books library is 86 years old, yet continues to adapt to the changing landscape of how our library users want to read their books.

“There are some great advantages to accessing your Talking Books this way. If you start a book but don’t like it, you can immediately choose another one rather than waiting for your next book to arrive in the post.

“Voice-activated technology is bringing us closer to a world where blind and partially sighted people can consume books on a level playing field with sighted people.”

Amazon’s Alexa country manager for the UK, Dennis Stansbury, said the firm was “delighted” to be able to offer a new way to access the library.

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