Kindle Textbook Deployment Faces Stiff Challenges

The Kindle textbook deployment faces an uphill battle as the
National Federation of the Blind and American Council of the Blind filed a discrimination Law Suit against Arizona State University Amazon Kindle DX Pilot Program claiming that it discriminates against the blind.

What is the problem?

Transforming digital text to  audio and braile is relatively simple, but at present, the Amazon Kindle DX is not completely configued to do so in such a way  to accomodate blind readers.

Yes, the device currently translate digital book into Audio, but one can only activate the feature via an on-screen menu that’s not accessible to the blind.

“It is unfair to the blind to deploy such a huge project and the blind do not have access to it.” said one blind student.

“Software exists that can use audio or keyboard shortcuts to make menus available,” says Danielson of the federation for the blind, but Amazon has chosen not to incorporate that technology into the Kindle at this point.

By adopting the device as-is, Arizona State and the other universities are violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“Given the highly-advanced technology involved, there is no good reason that Amazon’s Kindle DX device should be inaccessible to blind students,” Marc Maurer, the federation’s president, said in a prepared statement.

“Amazon could have used the same text-to-speech technology that reads e-books on the device aloud to make its menus accessible to the blind, but it chose not to do so.

Thus far Amazon is silent on the issue. Let us know your thoughts.

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One Response

  1. While I have a great sympathy for the blind and sight-impaired, this is a bogus lawsuit. The ASU-Kindle text book program is an exploratory project to determine the viability of a text book distribution system using Kindle DX. If it is successful, it would mean that students could save substantially on textbook costs and not have to lug around those (usually) heavy printed books. Would the blind organizations ban all printed texts that were not simultaneously printed in Braille? The Kindle should not have to be redesigned to conform to the lawsuit before the feasibility of the concept is determined.

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