How To Turn Off Voice on Amazon Fire Tablet
Amazon’s lineup of Fire tablets and devices make up some of our favorite deals in technology today. Whether you’re looking at their 4K Fire TV set-top box, their incredibly-cheap lineup of their Amazon Echo speakers with Alexa enabled for voice assistance, or their series of Fire tablets that can be purchased all for under $200, there’s plenty to love about Amazon’s gadgets if you’re shopping on a budget. The Fire 7, available for just $50 and occasionally on sale for only $30, is far and away the best cheap tablet you can pick up today. The Fire HD 8 and HD 10 only add to that experience, with better processors, sharper and larger displays, and improved speakers available starting at just $80 and $150, respectively. These are some cheap tablets, and it goes to show you that just because a device is cheap doesn’t mean that it won’t serve you well in the long run.
Of course, Amazon uses their own custom software on these tablets in order to provide their users with an Amazon-first experience, and that includes baking in their own fair share of accessibility tools added to the software. Fire OS is also based on Android, which itself has some accessibility options, which make it perfect for users that need to customize their experience with the tablet. Whether you need to adjust the font size of your device, enable high-contrast text, or adjust the color on your display to make up for color blindness. There are plenty of accessibility tools for users to select and choose from, which is great when you’re looking for a way to make sure your device is working in a way designed for the user.
Unfortunately, these settings get occasionally get enabled accidentally, and can create problems for users who just want to use their Fire tablets without any additional accessibility settings turned on. If your Amazon Fire tablet is suddenly reading the content displayed on your screen out loud, you may have accidentally enabled Screen Reader. What exactly is screen reader, and how can you disable it from running on your tablet? Let’s dive in and take a look at how to stop the program from running on your Fire device.
What is VoiceView Screen Reader?
At its core, VoiceView Screen Reader and its companion accessibility option, known as Explore by Touch, are designed to help users with difficulties seeing the display to use their Amazon Fire device. Screen Reader, also known as VoiceView, is disabled by default, since most users won’t need or want their device to read everything on their display. Screen Reader is accessed by going into the settings menu on your device and scrolling to the System category, then selecting Accessibility. Here’s where you’ll find some of the options outlined above, including, at the top of the display, the VoiceView Screen Reader option. When VoiceView is enabled, it has all sorts of settings and options, along with a tutorial that shows you how to use the feature. We’ll discuss a little bit of this at the bottom of the article.
VoiceView is, at its core, will read any selected text on your display. If your tablet is highlighting icons and text with a green box, then reading that information out loud, you may have accidentally activated Screen Reader mode on your device. You can also tell that this mode has been activated on your device when you see a square icon in the top-left corner of your notification panel at the top of the display. If Screen Reader is enabled, you’ll likely find yourself having difficulty navigating around your tablet, specifically if you didn’t mean to turn on Screen Reader and are unable to correctly navigate around the tablet with your taps and swipes. In this mode, your normal swipes and taps don’t activate the traditional features of the device. This is laid out in the tutorial provided for Screen Reader, but if the mode has accidentally been activated by you or another family member, it may seem impossible to properly disable the mode.
How to Disable VoiceView
Now that you’re familiar with the mode that has been activated on your Fire tablet, you can take the proper steps to disable Screen Reader on your device and restore it to its proper settings. This doesn’t require any sort of restore on your part, nor will it require you to completely remove any data from your Fire device. Instead, you’ll need to dive into your settings menu to properly disable the mode. This does require an understanding of how to properly navigate Screen Reader, but don’t worry—we’ve provided a proper guide with each step below. These steps were performed on a device running Fire OS 188.8.131.52, the newest version of Fire OS as of writing.
Start by navigating to your home screen. If you are in an unknown app, tap once on the home button on the bottom of your device to select the button in green (you’ll likely hear your tablet say “Home button”). Once the button is selected in green, double-tap anywhere on the screen to return home. If you’re on the lock screen of your device, tap on the unlock icon at the bottom of your device, then double-tap anywhere on the device. Finally, if your device is locked and you are on the lock screen, you’ll have to tap on the lock icon at the bottom of your device, then double-tap on the display to load the lock input. Input your PIN or password by entering your password on the screen. You won’t have to tap twice to activate the number, but the tablet will read your password out loud. If you’re in a sensitive area or situation and you don’t want other users to hear your PIN, wait until you’re in a secure area. Finally, if you enter the wrong number and need to erase the number displayed, tap once on the backspace icon, then double-tap on the screen.
Once you’re on the home screen after following the steps above, use three fingers to swipe down from the top of your display. This will open the notification tray and quick-settings for your tablet. If you use one or two fingers, this will not work. Now, you’ll notice the VoiceView notification on your device, indicating that VoiceView is currently enabled on your device. Tap on this notification to select the option, then double-tap anywhere on the screen to open the VoiceView Screen Reader settings. Your Amazon Fire tablet should automatically select the top option, labeled “VoiceView.” If this option isn’t selected, tap on it a single time to highlight the option in green. When this option has been selected, double-tap anywhere on the screen to turn off VoiceView. A message will display on your device that alerts you VoiceView is about to be disabled. Tap once on the continue button, then double-tap anywhere on the screen to confirm your selection. Your Fire tablet will alert you that VoiceView is exiting, and your device will return to its usual control scheme.
If, for whatever reason, you have difficulty accessing the notification tray, you can also disable screen reader by loading your device’s settings. Use the above steps to gain access to the home screen. Then, using a single tap, select the Settings icon on your device to highlight it, then double-tap on the display to open the app. This presents a unique problem: the accessibility options are at the bottom of the display, which means it may be difficult to reach the bottom of the settings page where the accessibility options are kept. If you try to scroll with one finger, you’ll find that nothing happens. Instead, use three fingers to scroll to the bottom of the display, then tap on the Accessibility menu. Double-tap to open the Accessibility menu, then select VoiceView on this menu. Double-tap once more, then follow the above instructions to disable VoiceView.
How to Control VoiceView
While you probably came to this article to figure out the correct instructions for disabling the utility, it’s still a good idea to have some kind of understanding on how the controls for Screen Reader work, if only so that it’s easy to disable if it ever re-activates. Here’s a quick guide on controlling your tablet while in Screen Reader Mode:
- Activating Screen Reader: You may well be wondering how Voice View could possibly be activated on your device if you never went into the settings menu to activate it. Wonder no longer: VoiceView has a shortcut enabled so that the setting can be toggled on easily without having to enter the settings menu. To activate Screen Reader, press and hold the device’s power button until the power-off message appears on your device. Once your device makes a soft chime, press and hold two fingers down on the display for five seconds. You’ll hear a voice tell you to keep holding your fingers down to activate VoiceView; release your fingers to cancel the mode activation or keep holding your fingers down to finish the process of enabling the tool. This shortcut only works for enabling the setting; you’ll still have to follow the above steps to disable it.
- Selecting icons and actions: To select anything on your device, tap on the icon or button once, then double-tap anywhere on your screen. This will activate the equivalent of a single-tap in normal use.
- Scrolling: As we covered above, you’ll have to use three fingers to swipe on your display instead of just one.
- Swiping down the notification tray and quick settings: Once again, use your three-finger swipe to activate the menu from the top of the display.
- Go home: Swipe up, then left, using a single finger (this won’t work if you’re already home).
- Using the keyboard: If you have a password on your device and need to unlock it, you’ll need to use the keyboard. To do this, press and hold your finger down on the device and scroll over the letters on your keyboard until you find the proper key you want, as VoiceView reads back the letters on your screen. Release your finger from the display when you reach the correct letter, then move onto the next character.
You can find the full list of commands for controlling VoiceView Screen Reader on Amazon’s support site here. These settings are for their third-generation tablets, but the controls still seem to work as expected.
VoiceView and the rest of Amazon’s accessibility suite are a great addition to an even greater gadget, allowing anyone to use the device regardless of physical disabilities. While Amazon does a good job striking the balance between being able to easily enable VoiceView and making sure it isn’t activated by accident. Still, mistakes can be made, and finding your tablet in VoiceView can be a frustrating experience if you’re unfamiliar with how the function works. VoiceView changes everything about the basic concepts of your tablet, which means you basically need to re-learn how to use your device in order to disable the setting. Hopefully, this guide has helped you disable the function on your Fire tablet, allowing you to return back to a normal usage, and has even helped you learn how to control Screen Reader if it’s ever accidentally enabled again. If you’re still having difficulties turning off VoiceView, let us know in the comments below!