[Athen] [Access-l] Fwd: Article: Lawyer: Push for e-reader could
violate blind students' rights (fwd)
Jennison Mark Asuncion
asuncion at alcor.concordia.ca
Mon Sep 7 06:28:20 PDT 2009
Thought sme ehre might find this article of interest.
Co-Director, Adaptech Research Network http://www.adaptech.org
LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jennison
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Date: Fri, 04 Sep 2009 11:54:32 +1000
From: Steve Pattison <srp at internode.on.net>
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To: Access L <access-l at access-l.com>, VIP L <vip-l at softspeak.com.au>
Subject: [Access-l] Fwd: Article: Lawyer: Push for e-reader could violate blind
From: Don Moore don.moore48 at comcast.net
To: gui-talk at NFBnet.org
Lawyer: Push for e-reader could violate blind students' rights
Free Press Staff Writer
September 02, 2009 20:29 PM
Efforts to bring some of the most cutting-edge technologies to Wayne State
University classrooms could violate the rights of blind students, lawyer and
Board of Governors Chairman Richard Bernstein said today.
At issue is Amazon.com's best-selling Kindle 2 e-reader, a device that
allows users to download books and documents for reading on the go. The
company is working with universities nationwide to use the readers in
classrooms to replace textbooks, bound notes and other learning materials.
The device has software that converts text to voice, making it possible for
blind people to listen to texts. But in an agreement with book publishers
and authors, who believe the text-to-voice function will eat into audiobook
sales, individual authors and publishers can decide whether to allow readers
to use the text-to-voice function on the device. Otherwise, it is disabled.
Bernstein said the device, as it is now, is not accessible to the blind, and
should the university decide to contract with Amazon.com for the devices,
they would be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"This is the new world," Bernstein said of the technology. "This is the most
important thing the disabled population has been faced with. Imagine if
everyone can download everything but you." There are 48 low-vision or blind
students at Wayne State University.
The National Federation for the Blind, which is suing Arizona State
University for its use of the e-reader in classes this fall, goes further,
saying the device, even with the software, is nearly impossible for the
blind to use, because it is not interactive and users cannot easily download
and play materials.
"A blind student is not going to be able to navigate in the text book. A
blind person can't really do anything else with a Kindle," said Chris
Danielsen, NFB spokesperson.
Currently, universities have the means to take textbooks and make them
accessible to blind students by scanning them into programs that work with
voice recognition software, but the time it takes to scan books means many
blind students go weeks without texts, or have to buy books well before
their classmates with sight.
At the monthly Board of Governors meeting today, Bernstein asked the
university to hold off on efforts to bring e-readers to classrooms until the
text-to-voice function is fully restored. The board voted unanimously on a
resolution urging Amazon.com to reverse its decision to disable the
"If a company wants to produce an inaccessible device, they have every right
to do so. But if you want to work within the university community, you have
to adhere to basic values and principles," Bernstein said.
Email: srp at internode.on.net
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