About the Blind Foundation skill

You can now read audio books and magazines from the Blind Foundation with your Alexa, using the Blind Foundation skill. With over 17,000 titles, the Blind Foundation library features New Zealand and international audio books, and selected magazine titles produced in the Parnell studios. Just ask Alexa to find a book or magazine, and you can listen to the audio directly online. You can search by author, title, or just ask for a random book to start reading.

Skill requirements

To get started with your Amazon Alexa, you will need:

  • Stable access to a wifi (wireless Internet) network, with a user name and password;
  • An Internet connected device (PC, laptop, or smart phone) to configure and manage your Alexa device on your home network;
  • An Amazon user account, configured with your personal e-mail address;
  • An Amazon Alexa smart speaker, such as an Echo, Dot, etc.

To use the skill, you will first need to be a Blind Foundation Library member, or have a print disability. Registered Blind Foundation clients and New Zealand citizens/residents with a print disability are eligible to join. For more information, visit ‘Accessing our Library’ or call us on 0800 24 33 33.

To register an Amazon account, you need to be aged 18 or over, and have access to your own e-mail account. Within New Zealand, it’s preferable to create your Amazon account on www.amazon.com.au. This will ensure better localization when you set up your Alexa, so that you can use it more effectively with other skills besides the Blind Foundation.

Once you have created an Amazon account, you will need to register the account name with the Blind Foundation, in order to authorise your access to the Blind Foundation skill. Please call us on 0800 24 33 33 to confirm your Amazon account with the Library team.

How does the skill work?

When you start the skill for the first time, Alexa will start by offering you a tutorial in basic operations. In the tutorial, you can practice interacting with Alexa, asking for help, looking for books, and choosing books from a menu. You can then get start requesting your own books and magazines to read. The next time you start the skill, Alexa will ask whether you would like to carry on with the last title you were reading. While you are reading a title, you can increase or decrease the volume, and skip between chapters. When you go back to a book you have started reading, Alexa will take you back to the place you left off.

To launch the skill:

  • Say, “Alexa, start Blind Foundation”, or “Alexa, open Blind Foundation.”

Skill Tutorials

Introduction to Alexa

Alexa is a smart speaker that acts like a personal assistant. You can ask her questions or request her to do a task for you.

Introduction to Blind Foundation skill

Our library service skill is called Blind Foundation. This skill can currently play audiobooks and magazines.

More Blind Foundation skill commands

There are a few other commands you might find helpful.

User Testimonials

Trevor Plumbly

Alexa is fast, simple and convenient. “Talking is so important to blind people. Having this in the house is just the same as having another person, I think that’s fantastic”.

The video starts with the following quote by Trevor Plumbly “Having this in the house is just the same as having another person, I think that’s fantastic.”

Leyna Coleman

Alexa is simple, just speak to her. “ I am very impressed with how responsive she is. I think that whole concept of being able to just use my voice, I think it has taken a lot of access barriers away and made things faster”.

The video starts with the following quote by Leyna Coleman “Once you’ve got it set up, just open your mouth and talk to her, and she talks back.”

Gwen Doria

The Blind Foundation Alexa skill helps our elderly clients stay in touch with the world.

“Some of our clients say I can’t really get out… I can’t watch TV, because I can’t see, so the audio books give them company.”

The video starts with the following quote by Gwen Doria “It helps clients to stay in touch with the world I suppose”

Heather Davis

You can ask Alexa anything! “I can’t see the clock very well, so just knowing what the time is, knowing what the weather is doing, it’s like you know there’s a voice there…”

The video starts with the following quote by Heather Davis “It’s kind of company that you can ask her something”.

Privacy policy

The Blind Foundation Skill does not collect or transmit any user’s personal information, with the exception of technical information included in HTTP requests (such as the IP address). No personal information is used, stored, secured or disclosed by services this application works with, except for the user’s registered Amazon account e-mail address for validation purposes. If you would like to report any violations of this policy, please contact us at applications@blindfoundation.org.nz.