Kindle eReader with speaker symbol.

Amazon Kindle app and low vision accessibility

Tips and accessibility features for using the Amazon Kindle app with low vision.

I started using the Amazon Kindle app when I was in high school after a textbook for one of my classes was purchased from the Kindle marketplace. It quickly became one of my favorite apps for reading eTextbooks as a student with low vision, because I could enlarge images and text on my own, as well as configure additional display options. Since then, I’ve continued using the Amazon Kindle app on my iPad, Android phone, and Windows computer to read textbooks purchased from Amazon, as well as content from other applications like the Libby app from my local library and files from my computer. Here is an overview of the Amazon Kindle app and low vision accessibility features, with information on how to use Kindle with visual impairment and print disabilities.

Overview of Kindle applications

The Amazon Kindle application is a free way to access eBooks, eTextbooks, digital reading content, and audiobooks that are stored in an individual’s Kindle library, which is connected to their (free) Amazon account. A Kindle eReader or device is not required in order to use the Kindle apps, though users will need to log in with a (free) Amazon account.

Kindle apps are available for the following operating systems and platforms:

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Adding content to Kindle library

There are several different options for readers to add content to their Kindle library, including purchasing titles from the Amazon store, borrowing books with a library card, and uploading their own files to their Kindle library (a process known as sideloading).

Purchasing from Amazon

Amazon offers a vast array of eBooks and eTextbooks that are designed to be read with Kindle devices and applications, with the vast majority of titles supporting display settings like large print and customizing the page display. Readers can purchase titles individually or use a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited to get access to different categories of books for a monthly fee. I strongly recommend downloading samples of a title before purchasing to ensure that it works with text-to-speech and can accommodate other reader preferences.

In addition, readers can also purchase audiobooks from Amazon or the Audible service and play them in the Kindle app – I share more information about this in a later section.

Borrowing books with Libby/OverDrive

The Libby app by OverDrive provides readers with the option to check out eBooks, magazines, and audiobooks at no cost with a library card. Readers have the option to read titles in the Libby app, or they can use the Kindle app instead to read content free of charge. Libby is available 24 hours a day and is available from over 90% of public libraries in the USA/North America, as well as 78 different countries.

Sideloading content with Send-to-Kindle

My favorite way to use the Kindle app is with the Send-to-Kindle feature, which allows approved users to send files directly into the Kindle app, and automatically display the content with the app’s pre-defined display settings. Files can be sent over email, uploaded from the web, sent from Microsoft Word, or added with a web extension.

Send To Kindle content is added to the device library and can be used across devices just like other types of content. There is a size limit of 200 MB per file, and file formats supported include PDF, DOC, DOCX, TXT, RTF, HTM, HTML, PNG, GIF, JPG, JPEG, BMP, and EPUB. Assistive Reader and text-to-speech features are not supported for sideloaded content.

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Highlighting and annotation with the Kindle app

Highlighting and annotation features provide readers with the option to add colored highlighting to selected text, as well as add annotations (notes) to text. Annotations and highlighted text can be read at any time by selecting the Annotations button in the top right corner of an open title, which looks like a notebook. Readers can then view annotations and notes they have made in a sidebar or full screen display, as well as export annotations to a flashcard deck or to an email with citations included.

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Reading settings: Using Kindle with large print

Once readers open a title in the Kindle library, the Reading Settings menu icon (Aa) appears in the top right corner and provides options for customizing the font, layout, themes, and more options. The display settings are then updated to be displayed across all apps and titles within the Kindle library automatically.


Amazon Kindle apps offer the following font options for English text:

For resizing font or enabling large print, there is also a slider with 18 font sizes to choose from. The largest font size on the Kindle App (18 on the slider) is equivalent to 32-pt font.


Within the layout menu, readers can customize the following settings:


Instead of or in addition to customizing the font and layout, readers can enable a pre-configured display theme or save their own settings as a custom theme. Readers can save multiple custom themes with different font sizes, page colors, and other reading settings enabled to optimize their reading experience.

Reading Ruler

Available in the “More” section, readers can enable a Reading Ruler, also known as a line guide or virtual typoscope. Readers can configure the following settings to customize the display of the Reading Ruler:

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Using Kindle app with read aloud/text to speech

With the Assistive Reader, readers can listen to text-to-speech and have text read aloud with a synthesized voice. Reading speed can be configured in the Assistive Reader player in the bottom right corner of the screen, using a slider to set the speed between 0.5x and 3.5x. By default, real-time text highlighting is turned on, which highlights words as they are read by Assistive Reader or Audible. This feature is also known as word-level highlighting.

It’s worth noting that not all Kindle titles support Assistive Reader or text-to-speech, so readers will need to review product listings before purchasing any titles. Assistive Reader cannot be used with sideloaded content, but it can be used with Libby/OverDrive titles.

Reading Kindle with Amazon Alexa

Asking Alexa to read from Kindle will open up the most recent book in the Kindle library and start reading from the last saved location in the book. Books are read out loud with Alexa’s voice and users can adjust playback settings with their voice, including:

To enable playing Kindle books, users will need to enable the Kindle Assistive Reader in the Alexa app in Reading Settings. Titles must have support for text-to-speech to be compatible with the Amazon Alexa.

Users who download books to the Kindle app from Libby/OverDrive can have their content read out loud with Kindle Assistive Reader.

Bonus: Kindle with audible narration

Another option for audio-supported reading for select titles, Kindle with Audible narration offers a bundle deal where readers can purchase a title from Amazon along with the accompanying Audible audiobook, which is often available at a discounted price. Alternatively, readers can search for books in their library that offer Audible narration by using the “Scan My Library” feature and purchase the tracks at a later time at the same discounted price.

Once the Audible narration track is purchased/downloaded, readers can turn on Audible narration within a supported title and then listen to the audiobook while following along with the printed text. By default, word-level highlighting is enabled to assist with line tracking and following along with the text.

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Using Kindle app with a screen reader

Amazon Kindle applications can be used with assistive technology like screen readers and refreshable braille displays to read text and access content in the library. Readers will still need to turn Assistive Reader on in order to have titles read out loud or displayed with a braille display. Alternatively, readers can enable Audible narration on participating titles and listen to content while reading with a refreshable braille display.

Titles must have support for text-to-speech and screen readers in order to be compatible with assistive technologies, though according to Amazon it is extremely rare for a title to support text-to-speech but not support screen reader access. Sideloaded content cannot be read with a screen reader, though titles borrowed through Libby/Overdrive are supported.

Amazon maintains a list of titles that support screen reader access, which can be found at the link below or on the Amazon Accessibility website.

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How I use Amazon Kindle apps with low vision

Reading textbooks with low vision

Many of my textbooks for my undergraduate program in data science and graduate program in assistive technology are available from the Amazon Kindle store, so I can instantly get access to the books I need and configure them with large print or other display settings. I can also enlarge images that are embedded into the book, as well as locate pages with the table of contents, though I sometimes have trouble accessing tables since the large print can distort the formatting. This is an issue with the eBook publisher and not the Kindle app, but that’s why I also request accessible textbooks from my college’s assistive technology office.

Uploading documents from my computer

Send-to-Kindle offers a large file size limit and unlimited sideloading for free, and I use this frequently for storing documents or files that I might need to read offline or while I’m away from my computer. For example, I sent a copy of a project I was working on to the Kindle app via email so that I could reference it during a meeting with my professor and add annotations or notes as needed, and I’ve also loaded research journal articles, scripts/transcripts, or other readings onto my Kindle Library to read later on my tablet. This is also how I load Bookshare content into the Kindle app.

Something that would have helped me in middle or high school would have been the option to send documents via email. I would have added my teachers as approved senders and asked them to send copies of class readings or other read-only documents so that I could enlarge them on my own with the Kindle app, so that they wouldn’t have had to worry about submitting a copy of the content to be enlarged or otherwise made accessible. One of my teachers regularly referenced documents and text packets during class, and it was challenging for me to follow along with the text on the board or to fit multiple pages on my desk at the same time.

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Additional resources for using Kindle apps with low vision

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,

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