Amazon is rolling out new Echo Show accessibility features today. The company announced new gestures, text-to-speech (TTS) features and caption settings using the device’s screen to help customers with disabilities.
The Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) and Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) now let you dismiss timers with a gesture. If a cooking timer goes off while your hands are messy, you can raise your palm towards the camera to silence it. Of course, Alexa already supported dismissing timers with voice, but the hand-wave accommodates people with speech disabilities (or those who don’t feel like talking to a computer).
The Echo Show is also adding text-to-speech capabilities. Tap to Alexa, an accessibility hub that uses the touchscreen instead of spoken commands, now lets you type phrases for Alexa to read aloud. Additionally, it can create shortcuts for commonly used phrases, which you can organize with icons and colors. The TTS feature was already available on Fire tablets, but this is its Echo Show debut.
Finally, Consolidated Captions turns on captions universally without repeating the process on every device. Activating captions from the Echo Show’s accessibility settings now enables Call Captioning, Closed Captioning and Alexa Captioning on all of your account’s supported Echo Show devices.
The updates arrive as Amazon reshuffles its priorities amid economic uncertainty. Last month, it began laying off employees, reportedly cutting around 10,000 jobs. Its Devices & Services division, which handles Echo Show and Alexa, reportedly bore the brunt of it. In October, Amazon also killed off Glow, its kid-focused video-calling device.