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Tap to Alexa makes Amazon Echo Show friendlier to the hearing impaired

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When you don’t have any problems hearing, the Amazon Echo Show is a great device. Its voice-first interface makes sending commands to your smart home a breeze, and it means that Alexa’s always on standby in case you have a desperate need for an answer to an inquiry. 

But, for people who are hearing impaired, using the Amazon Echo Show wasn’t always easy.  

Thankfully Amazon has set out to fix those problems with a new feature called Tap to Alexa that’s launching today for the Amazon Echo Show. The feature will place common Alexa commands on the Echo Show’s homescreen and will introduce a virtual keyboard to allow users to type in commands by hand.

The aforementioned shortcuts will be customizable as well as swappable - if you don’t need a shortcut to turn on the lights in your home, you can swap it out for something more appropriate. Shortcuts, in this case, can consist of individual actions or entire routines. 

Accessibility for all 

The Tap to Alexa update comes on the same day that the UK, Germany, Japan, India, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are getting Alexa Captioning - a separate feature that adds on-screen text for most Alexa commands. 

Both Tap to Alexa and Alexa Captioning are accessible via the Settings icon on the Amazon Echo Show, found under the Accessibility options. 

Tap to Alexa is only available on the Amazon Echo Show, but Amazon told CNET (opens in new tab) that it’s investigating the possibility of bringing it to the smaller Amazon Echo Spot, too.  

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.