Play Books low vision

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Play Books low vision


Welcome to our short introduction on using the Play Books eBook reader showing the facilities available for a low vision reader

We are using a Nexus 10 tablet here. The Nexus 10 is an Android tablet from Google. It has two benefits over other Android tablets. The first is that it runs what is currently the latest version of Android, 4.2, also known as Jelly Bean. And secondly there is no "skin" - a skin is additional software that some manufacturers add to their devices to change how it looks and works, and the problem with a skin is that it can disrupt the accessibility features that are built into Android.

One other thing about using the Nexus 10 is that it is possible to actually have two or more account set up with very different settings. So we can have two people with different levels of sight loss each running the machine with their preferred settings, and that is a very nice feature to have so that you're not having to always switch back and forth.

Android 4.2 has magnification built into it but you do have to change a setting in order to quickly toggle it on or off. So, you go into Settings and then Accessibility and there is a "Magnification gesture" option, and once I've turned that on, I can triple tap the screen and that introduces magnification.

With magnification on I can use two fingers to scroll round the screen, and I can pinch to decrease the magnification or zoom to increase it to a level that's comfortable.

Note that not everything on the screen is magnified. For instance there are three buttons at the bottom of the screen which are always there and those buttons do not magnify. By the same notion if ever I need to type anything, the onscreen keyboard comes up, that also will not be magnified.

With the magnification on I can find the Play Books app and tap it a single time to open. There are a number of ways that the Play Books app can present when you first open it. At the moment it's showing my Recent read items, and the covers of these are quite large and easy to see. If I tap the Read Now menu at the top, I have some other options such as My Library, and if I just show you what that looks like – the covers are quite a bit smaller but there are many more of them on the screen. So it's your choice which view you go for.

Remember that with any of these views you can triple tap the screen to get the magnification back.

Having chosen a book to read, and tapping into a single time, the book opens and if you did have magnification turned on then it will turn off again. I could turn magnification back on and try reading a book using my two finger drag but this would be a very cumbersome way to read a book from beginning to end.

An alternative to this is to move to the middle of the book screen - the original unmagnified book screen , which is between the two columns of text - and a single tap will bring a menu up at the top of the screen. I can now use my two fingers swipe across to the right and find an "Aa" button which indicates there are some font options.

There are a number of these but I was going to start with the font size option here a "T-" and a "T+". Each time I press the T+, the text size increases by approximately 12.5%. I can tap this a few times and keep going to make the text quite a lot larger, and hopefully get to a stage that it's comfortable to read even if I turn the magnification off. I have tried increasing the text quite a lot, and I can get it until there is only one or two characters on the screen at which point it would be fairly difficult to read a whole book anyhow.

As well as being able to change the font size there a number of other settings such as a theme where I can change the background of the text so that it's a less glary sepia colour. Or I can actually turn it to a night-time theme which is white text on black. I'll go back to the day theme for the rest of this quick demo.

There are a number of other settings, for instance I can change my typeface if I have a particular preference for a sans serif or a serif font, I can choose one. And I can also do things like change the justification, to have it for instance fully justified.

Light height and brightness are also options you may want to change, although it's important to note that if you want to change the brightness you first of all have to take the auto brightness off, and it goes very dark and then you can drag the slider in order to increase the brightness.

When I have the tablet in landscape mode, text is always shown in two columns, regardless of the size of the text. And if I wished, I could put my tablet into portrait mode and it would be in a single column, again regardless of any size of text that I choose. The reason we're using landscape for our filming is simply because it fits our filming equipment better, but you can change or fix the rotation from the main Settings area.

If it's not fixed than simply by moving the tablet around you can change the orientation and some people might find that a bit disconcerting.

One other feature that might be worth touching upon for a moment is the Read Aloud feature. If I go to the Settings menu at the top right of the Play Books screen there's a "Read aloud" option and if I tap that it will start reading the book.

Read Aloud:

One of the nice things about this low-impact routine, you could have a quiet...


And then simply tapping the book stops that voice, although if I was to tap the screen again it would start or it would carry on reading. I need to go to the settings menu and "Stop reading aloud" if I wish that to happen. I'm not sure how to get the voice to read from the top left of the screen – you may have noticed the voice started reading from the right hand column, and I'm not sure how to get it to change where it starts reading. If you find a way of doing that please let us know.

I hope you found this quick intro to some of the features of the Play Books app that might be useful to a low vision reader helpful.

This video featured the Play Book app version 2.8.69 on a Nexus 10 tablet running Android 4.2.2


RNIB supporting blind and partially sighted people

RNIB – supporting blind and partially sighted peoplernib – supporting blind and partially sighted people registered charity number 226227

Registered charity number 226227

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