Kindle lawsuit settled.
E-books (Access control)
Universities and colleges (United States)
Universities and colleges (Cases)
Disabled students (Educational aspects)
|Publication:||Name: Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness Publisher: American Foundation for the Blind Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 American Foundation for the Blind ISSN: 0145-482X|
|Issue:||Date: Feb, 2010 Source Volume: 104 Source Issue: 2|
|Topic:||Event Code: 980 Legal issues & crime Advertising Code: 94 Legal/Government Regulation Computer Subject: Electronic book; Company legal issue|
|Product:||Product Code: 8220000 Colleges & Universities NAICS Code: 61131 Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools SIC Code: 8221 Colleges and universities|
|Organization:||Organization: Arizona State University|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
|Legal:||Statute: Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990|
In mid-January 2010, Arizona State University (ASU) settled a
lawsuit brought by two consumer groups, the American Council of the
Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), over the
university's plan to adopt the Kindle DX e-book reader.
ACB and NFB originally filed suit against ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents in June 2009 after ASU began a pilot program to distribute electronic textbooks to students via the Kindle DX. Kindle only supports limited text-to-speech capabilities--the content of books can be read aloud, but the menu system, Kindle Store, and other aspects of the device are not accessible. As a result, blind students were unable to navigate the device or turn on the text-to-speech feature without help. This lack of independent access, ACB and NFB asserted in the lawsuit, is a violation of both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. ASU argued that no blind or visually impaired students were prevented from enrolling in the class that was participating in the Kindle DX pilot, and said that there were alternate reading options for students who could not use the e-book reader.
The settlement, which involved no monetary damages, was agreed upon when ASU committed to use devices that are more accessible to students who are blind if it chooses to select e-book readers for university-wide use in the future; and the university cited its commitment to providing access to all programs to students with disabilities. NFB President Mare Maurer reacted to the settlement by saying that his organization is "pleased with this settlement, which we believe will help to ensure that new technologies create new opportunities for blind students rather than new barriers." Jacqui Cheng, an associate editor at Ars Technica, a technology news and analysis web portal, predicted that the right over e-book readers and accessibility may be raised again: "Because more and more institutions are considering switching over to e-book readers in the coming years, accessibility will remain a sticking point until the devices become more universally useable." [Information for this piece was taken from the January 12, 2010 Ars Technica article, "Lawsuit over Kindle navigation by visually impaired settled," by Jacqui Cheng.] For more information, contact: American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone: 202467-5081; web site:
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