Feeds

Universities avoid Kindle over accessibility barriers

Suits from blind groups over lack of menu aids

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Three US universities have agreed not to use Amazon's e-book reader the Kindle until it is easily usable by blind people. A fourth settled a complaint from blind people's advocacy groups by saying that it will strive to use accessible devices in future.

Though the Kindle DX reader can read out text, making it potentially useful to blind people or those with low vision, it offers no way to navigate its controls and menus that is accessible to blind users.

Along with a student, US groups the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind sued Arizona State University last year over its trial of Kindle readers. The suit said that the University was in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

That Act prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of their disability and applies to public bodies and all post-secondary educational institutions whether public or private.

Though maintaining that it had not broken the law, the University settled that case and the trial of the machines will be allowed to conclude this spring.

The American Council of the Blind said that it reached the agreement because of "the university's agreement that should ASU deploy e-book readers in future classes over the next two years, it will strive to use devices that are accessible to the blind", according to a Council statement.

The Department of Justice said that three other universities had agreed not to use or promote Kindle devices or other e-book readers that were not fully accessible to blind users.

"Under the agreements reached today, the universities generally will not purchase, recommend or promote use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless the devices are fully accessible to students who are blind and have low vision. The universities agree that if they use dedicated electronic book readers, they will ensure that students with vision disabilities are able to access and acquire the same materials and information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use."

The universities which have agreed to refrain from using the Kindle or any non-compliant machine are Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland; Pace University in New York; and Reed College in Oregon.

"Advancing technology is systematically changing the way universities approach education, but we must be sure that emerging technologies offer individuals with disabilities the same opportunities as other students," said assistant US attorney general Thomas E. Perez. "These agreements underscore the importance of full and equal educational opportunities for everyone."

The universities will be allowed to complete their pilot programmes before the agreements take effect.

Amazon said in December that it would release Kindle machines with an audio menu by summer of this year.

"[The Kindle] has enabled many vision-impaired readers to enjoy books more easily than before, and has also helped dyslexic readers and those with learning disabilities improve their reading skills," said its statement. "To make Kindle more useful for the blind, the Kindle team is currently working on an audible menuing system, so blind and vision-impaired readers can easily navigate to books unassisted."

"In addition, a new super size font will be added to Kindle, increasing the number of font sizes from six to seven. This seventh font size will be twice the height and width of the current largest font. These new features are scheduled for release by the summer of 2010," said the statement.

Copyright

Copyright © 2010, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?