Commerce has moved online. Now, the disability lawsuits are following.
Advocates for disabled Americans have declared that companies have a legal obligation to make their websites as accessible as their stores, and they've filed suits across the country to force them to install the digital version of wheelchair ramps and self-opening doors.Tags:
Posted by jcummings on March 13, 2013 at http://www.educause.edu/blogs/jcummings/kindle-accessibility-concerns-continue
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) continues to raise concerns about the accessibility of Amazon's Kindle devices as well as its Kindle apps for other devices (e.g., the iPad) for persons with visual disabilities. On its Kindle Books page, NFB provides a chart comparing the accessibility of Kindle devices/apps against accessible alternatives, the iBook and Blio, along a number of key parameters, such as text highlighting and note-taking features that would be of particular interest to postsecondary students. NFB has also made available a few videos to illustrate key issues or concerns, with a demonstration of Kindle's accessibility limitations in relation to other accessible alternatives probably of greatest interest to EDUCAUSE members.
While the page emphasizes NFB's concerns about the distribution of Kindles in K-12 settings, the ongoing marketing of Kindles to the higher education market remains an issue. For example, after viewing the comparison chart and demonstration video, you may want to review the "Kindle in college" section of the Kindle Education page and consider the features and functionality discussed in light of the Kindle's possible accessibility limitations in thinking about the potential for institutional deployment.
EDUCAUSE Blog Post: NFB Proposes Bill on Accessibility Standards for Digital Instructional Materials
Posted by jcummings on March 12, 2013 at http://www.educause.edu/blogs/jcummings/nfb-proposes-bill-accessibility-standards-digital-instructional-materials
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has released a fact sheet for proposed national legislation to enact a key recommendation of the Postsecondary Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Commission report released over a year ago. (For more on the AIM Commission, please see the end of this post.) NFB’s legislative proposal would have Congress direct the U.S. Access Board, which develops accessibility guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to establish such guidelines for digital instructional materials at the postsecondary level, including related delivery technologies. The proposal would further direct the U.S. Department of Justice to adopt those guidelines as enforceable standards under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. This would make colleges and universities subject to legal and regulatory sanction if the digital instructional materials and delivery technologies they deploy do not meet the standards.
(Whether and how allowances for the “installed base” of digital materials and technologies would be made, as opposed to the application of standards to new or replacement deployments, has not yet been presented. However, such allowances have generally been a part of previous legal and regulatory developments in the accessibility space. On another concern, institutions would not see the application of enforceable standards immediately under the proposal; the development of the guidelines and their adoption as enforceable standards would most likely take place over a few years.)
In visits to Congress, NFB has identified its “Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act” (not to be confused with the already enacted “Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002”) as a central piece of its legislative agenda for the current Congress. EDUCAUSE is engaged in discussions with NFB and other sectors of the higher education community to better understand the proposal and its potential effects on colleges and universities nationwide.
We will highlight what we learn for our members and other interested parties as our perspective develops. In the interim, if you have questions or thoughts on this topic, please share them with me by commenting on this post or contacting me at email@example.com.
(Note: The Postsecondary AIM Commission was chartered by Congress in the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to evaluate the state of accessibility in the market for postsecondary instructional materials, including the technologies for delivering them, and to make recommendations to Congress for improvement. For more information, please see my May 2011 blog post that provides an overview of the commission and its charge. )
*All citations refer to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf.Tags:
Blind protesters march at Amazon over Kindle accessibility
Dozens of visually impaired people with white canes and guide dogs protested outside Amazon.com’s headquarters in Seattle today. They say Amazon’s Kindle e-readers aren’t fully accessible to the blind.
Protesters chanted, "Kindles aren’t cool, keep them out of school," as they marched in the cold rain. They say they’re concerned about Amazon’s push to get Kindles and Kindle e-books in classrooms.
The National Federation of the Blind has long said that Kindles lack features that blind people need – such as the ability to use a braille device with the e-reader. The visually impaired former New York Governor David Paterson joined the protest.
"We’re bringing the disparity right into public and private education," Paterson said. "That is just plain wrong."
Amazon has been adding features to its Kindles to make them easier for blind people to use. But the organization says Amazon products still lag Apple devices.
This story was updated on Dec. 15, 2012, to reflect the preferred terms "white canes" and "guide dogs" instead of "walking sticks" and "seeing-eye dogs."Tags:
Amazon’s Pushing to Put inaccessible Kindle E-books in Schools: IDEAL Group / Apps4Android's Response
We are disappointed that the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans today blocked the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would enshrine American standards that have been developed through decades of bipartisan cooperation. Ratification would require no changes to U.S. law, as the United States already leads the world in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. However, it would position the United States to support extending across the globe the rights that Americans already enjoy at home. This in turn would improve the lives of Americans with disabilities -- including our wounded service members -- who wish to live, work, and travel abroad. It would also allow our businesses to operate on a more level playing field and reaffirm American leadership on disability rights. For these reasons, and others, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and across the country -- as well as disability advocacy groups, wounded warriors, veterans groups and business groups -- have supported this treaty. We commend former Senator Dole and the bipartisan coalition of Senators who worked to secure the treaty resolution's passage, including Senators Reid, Kerry, Lugar and McCain. We hope the Senate will reconsider this treaty soon in the next Congress. As President Obama declared in a written statement read in tribute to Senator Dole just before the vote, disability rights should not stop at our nation's shores.
Note: If you received this email as a forward but would like to be added to the White House Disability Group email distribution list, please visit our website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/disability-issues-contact and fill out the "contact us" form in the disabilities section, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your full name, city, state, and organization.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
Blind Americans Will Protest at Amazon Headquarters
Seattle, Washington (December 4, 2012):In protest of a recent push by Amazon.com to put Kindle e-books, which are inaccessible to blind students, into K-12 classrooms across the country, members and supporters of the National Federation of the Blind will conduct an informational picket at the company’s headquarters on Wednesday, December 12. The action comes on the heels of Amazon’s launch of Whispercast, a system designed to allow teachers and school administrators to push Kindle e-books to different devices, theoretically allowing the sharing of content among devices brought to school by the students. Kindle content, unlike some other e-book products, is not accessible to blind students, even on devices that are themselves accessible to the blind, such as personal computers and iPads. This is because Amazon makes Kindle content available only to its own proprietary text-to-speech engine, if at all, rather than to accessibility applications of the reader’s choice. Furthermore, the limited accessibility features that Amazon has implemented do not allow for the kind of detailed reading that students need to do in an educational setting. Although the books can be read aloud with text-to-speech, the student cannot use the accessibility features of his or her device to learn proper spelling and punctuation, look up words in the dictionary, annotate or highlight significant passages, or take advantage of the many other features that Kindle devices and applications make available to sighted students. Kindle e-books also cannot be displayed on Braille devices, making them inaccessible to blind and deaf-blind students who read Braille.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Amazon has repeatedly demonstrated utter indifference to the recommendations of blind Americans for full accessibility of its Kindle e-books and failed to follow the best practices of other e-book providers. Blind Americans will not tolerate this behavior any longer. While we urge Amazon to correct the many obvious deficiencies in its implementation of accessibility and remain willing to work with the company to help it do so, we will oppose the integration of these products into America’s classrooms until Amazon addresses these deficiencies. Putting inaccessible technology in the classroom not only discriminates against blind students and segregates them from their peers, but also violates the law.”
For more information on this important issue, please visit www.nfb.org/kindle-books.
The National Federation of the Blind needs your support to ensure that blind children get an equal education, to connect blind veterans with the training and services they need, and to help seniors who are losing vision continue to live independent and fulfilling lives.To make a donation, please go to www.nfb.org.