The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education are taking on eReaders in universities, claiming that the Kindle DX may violate the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990″ and Section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973″ in the classroom, because the eReaders are not designed for students that are blind or have low vision abilities.
According to the Act, if universities have technology in classrooms, then they must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education authored an open letter to university presidents across the country raising concerns that the Kindle DX is not fully accessible to students with disabilities and therefore universities should not endorse the readers.
From the letter, “The Department of Justice recently entered into settlement agreements with colleges and universities that used the Kindle DX, an inaccessible, electronic book reader, in the classroom as part of a pilot study with Amazon.com, Inc. In summary, the universities agreed not to purchase, require, or recommend use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless or until the device is fully accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision, or the universities provide reasonable accommodation or modification so that a student can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use.”
Perhaps Ray Kurzweil’s text-to-speech Blio software will help address these challenges.