Alexa 101


audio version (opens in a new tab)


Several months ago,

I wrote an article about virtual assistants.

My goal was to show how beneficial virtual assistant devices can be for people with disabilities. Since I use Amazon’s Alexa most of the time, I decided to go into detail about the product. In this article, I will provide information about Alexa uses for people with disabilities and how I find the device beneficial.


With Alexa, it is possible to give commands to accomplish tasks. Examples are provided in this YouTube

video: “Amazon Echo “Alexa” For People With Disabilities”.

The presenter first has Alexa read part of a Kindle book. He then shows how to play music and determine the current weather. It is also possible to add items to an Amazon shopping list. The video also demonstrates a number of other uses for Alexa, so I encourage watching or listening to the complete video. I will now discuss Alexa skills.


Alexa skills give the device even more abilities. Unlike default commands, skills typically need to be enabled before they can be used. I found a set of videos about this topic focusing on the disability community. Check out the

YouTube channel: “Alexa Skills For People With Disabilities”.

Although some of the 21 videos reference features available by default on Alexa without enabling specific skills, some skills are explained as well. For example, the presenter has a

video about the Twitter Reader skill.

As the name implies, this Alexa skill can verbalize tweets for people who use Twitter. I do not use Twitter myself, but find it fascinating that Alexa can read information from a social network. The item in the channel which interests me the most is the

video: “Amazon Echo: Alexa Skill To Read Any Content Using Blueprint”.

Blueprints enable people to create their own skills, including having Alexa read specific information. Here is a

link to the Blueprints page on Amazon.

Although I have not used Blueprints before, it might be useful for me to create my own Alexa skill to review information in the future. The skill creation process sounds a bit complicated to me, so I plan to listen to the video linked to above again. Although Alexa can become even more useful, she is currently beneficial for me.


I use Alexa frequently. Listening to music with Alexa can help me relax. I also like the Kindle book reading feature because I can read a Kindle book without being in front of a computer. Although I do not go outside as frequently compared to pre-pandemic, I still find Alexa to be a useful and accurate weather forecaster. Since Alexa’s features are so vast, I encourage readers with Alexa devices to experiment and learn.


Question for readers: If you use an Alexa device, what features do you find most useful? I will return next week with another article.


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