We, the undersigned, respectfully request that you give priority to updating the Audible Sync software so that it supports the Victor Reader Stream from HumanWare.
The Victor Reader Stream is a device designed for blind users, with an intuitive user interface controlled via keys which are easily distinguishable by touch.
The Stream makes a wide variety of content accessible, including material from libraries specifically for those with print disabilities, as well as a range of mainstream content that is available elsewhere, but may be more difficult or less convenient for many blind people to access in other ways.
Victor Reader Stream users have appreciated Audible’s willingness to support this device in the past, and have expressed that appreciation by subscribing to Audible. While Audible continues to make efforts to ensure the accessibility of its own apps on smartphone platforms, for a variety of reasons, the Stream remains the preferred choice for a significant number of blind people to read Audible books. Just a few of these reasons include:
*The vast majority of people who are blind or have low vision are seniors who experience their vision impairment later in life. Some choose not to use a touchscreen-based smartphone. Lack of support for the Stream will lock these users out of the service.
*Even for experienced users of accessible smartphones, some simply prefer reading audiobooks on a dedicated device with physical keys. This may be because they find it more straightforward, but it may also be because heavy smartphone users who already have their screen readers talking a lot are concerned about battery life. The Stream is a dedicated reading and listening device that offers impressive battery life.
Some months ago, a new version of Audible Sync broke longstanding compatibility between Audible and the Stream for new users seeking to authorise their Audible accounts. This has been a growing frustration, but the matter has come to a head now because HumanWare has announced a new version of the Victor Reader Stream. This means many blind and low vision Stream users around the world will be upgrading their devices, and will lose access to Audible if Audible does not act.
In a recent podcast interview, HumanWare confirmed that while support for Audible on the Stream is ready to go, their new third generation Stream cannot support Audible until Audible adds support for the Stream in Audible Sync.
Blind people are avid audiobook readers, and therefore passionate Audible customers. Indeed, the audiobook format was invented for blind people. Only a fraction of the world's books are accessible to blind people. After many years of enjoying Audible on the Stream, it would be a disappointing and distressing sep backwards if Audible were to deprive some people of access to some of these books.
We submit that not only is it the right thing to do to give blind Audible customers support for the service in whatever way feels most comfortable to them, it is a good business decision. There is no doubt that Audible's support on the Stream has earned it revenue it would not otherwise have had. Not acting will definitely result in revenue foregone.
We therefore urge you, please, readd Victor Reader Stream support to Audible Sync so that current Stream devices in the market are supported again, and the third-generation Stream, soon to be released, is also supported.
We thank you for reading, and trust that you will remedy this matter expeditiously.
Thanks to everyone, 678 people at the time of publication of this update, who signed the open letter requesting that Amazon reinstate support for HumanWare’s Victor Reader Stream.
The letter came about as the result of comments made by HumanWare representatives in episode 212 of the Mosen at large podcast that not only was the forthcoming third generation Stream not yet supported by Audible, but changes to Audible Sync prevented new authorisations of current models.
During the week, I received a comprehensive audio demonstration from a listener, which will air in Mosen at Large 213, showing that with the latest version of Audible Sync, authorisation of the current generation Stream has now been reinstated. I should emphasise that this is not a result of the open letter, the Audible Sync update had been published previously but it seems Audible had not communicated this fix to product management at HumanWare.
I have contacted HumanWare and they confirm that they have heard similar and verified the fix with internal testing.
This is good news for all current Stream owners.
While matters are less clear with the third generation Stream and it appears HumanWare may need still to do some work on their side, things are also looking positive there as well.
It is a pity that communication between Audible and HumanWare hasn’t been better, but it is great that those who choose to read Audible books on the Stream can do so now with the current device, and should be able to do so soon if they purchase the new model.
Full credit to Amazon for responding, but I encourage larger companies to take the time to communicate with those serving the blind community. We are a small market, but the consequences of these things are significant for us.
While better communications would have saved us the bother of this open letter altogether, it has been a positive demonstration that we care about this issue.
This is likely to be my final update on the open letter to Amazon, and it is all good news.
HumanWare have let me know that they will be meeting bi-weekly with Audible and that communications have been strengthened. Hopefully, this will avert future disruptions that have in the past in the cause of concern.
HumanWare further advise that the third-generation Victor Reader Stream will not support Audible at launch because further work is required on both sides, but that a software update will be released, most likely in April or May, that will provide Audible support.
I am also advised that the open letter was circulated among Audible staff and that they were moved and impressed by the passion our community displayed.
So with this issue resolved, I will conclude with two expressions of thanks.
Thanks to Audible for listening so respectfully, being so responsive, and recognizing the choice that many in our community have made to read Audible content on the Victor Reader Stream.
And thank you to everyone who took the trouble to add their names to the letter. Sometimes, it feels like we are too insignificant, as individuals and even as a community, to make change. But when those seeking change and those able to make that change happen are willing to engage with courtesy and compassion, we can all make good things happen.
Happy reading, and on this issue, it’s over and out.