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Two Universities Reject “Inaccessible” Kindle

November 12 2009 | by

Two universities say they will not deploy Amazon’s Kindle DX to distribute electronic textbooks to their students, citing the Kindle’s lack of accessible features for people with print disabilities.

While the Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that can read textbooks aloud, the menus of the device are not accessible to the blind, making it impossible for a blind user to purchase or read books from Amazon’s Kindle store. The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University say they will not adopt the device for general use unless and until it is made accessible to blind students.

The National Federation of the Blind applauded the schools’ decision. The Kindle is “inaccessible” and “denies the blind equal access to electronic textbooks,” says Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NFB. “No university should consider this device to be a viable e-book solution for its students.”

Schools have been searching for an easier way to distribute books to its students. Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin’s director of libraries, says they’ll keep looking. “Such a device,” Frazier says, “would include universal design for accessibility, higher-quality graphics, and improved navigation and note-taking. I think that there will be a huge payoff for the company that creates a truly universal e-book reader.”

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