Amazon recently launched an Audio Adapter for the Kindle Paperwhite that allows you to plug in a pair of headphones and use Amazon’s VoiceView feature. Not only does VoiceView read eBooks aloud to you using Amazon’s text-to-speech engine, but it also provides audible navigation cues, helping visually-impaired users to interact with their Kindles.

The Audio Adapter for Kindle sells for $20, and Amazon says it officially only supports the Kindle Paperwhite (7th) gen eReader. But it turns out you can make your own audio adapter for less than $10… and it should work with several recent Kindle models.

audio adapter_02

Here’s what you need: a USB audio adapter (which typically sells for around $6 or less), and a micro USB to full-sized USB adapter (available for prices between $1 and $10).

German site Alles eBook notes that all you need to do is plug headphones into the audio adapter, plug that into the USB adapter, and connect that to the Kindle.

The VoiceView feature is included in the latest software for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Oasis. But according to Alles eBook, if you copy the voice files to the Kindle Voyage, VoiceView will work on that model as well.

Keep in mind, VoiceView is designed specifically for accessibility. There’s no way to turn on text-to-speech just for listening to eBooks. When TTS is turned on, so is audio navigation, which could be a bit frustrating for Kindle owners don’t have trouble seeing the screen.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the voice quality is much better than the text-to-speech voices available on older Kindles like the 2011 Kindle Touch, the pacing still sounds a bit robotic when compared with a professionally narrated audiobook.

Update: I finally got around to trying this out for myself. The text-to-speech on the new Kindle Paperwhite sounds a lot better than the TTS on my old Kindle Touch, but it is awkard navigating through the user interface with VoiceView enabled. If you’re not visually impaired, your best option is probably to open a book first and then plug in the adapter.

I’d also recommend at least considering buying the official Kindle Audio Adapter unless you already have the necessary parts lying around, because my DIY solution kept coming unplugged.

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