The National Federation of the Blind is very concerned about something that Amazon.com is doing. The company has been distributing their Kindle e-readers and Kindle e-books to schools. The problem is that those devices are inaccessible for students who are blind or who have other difficulties with print. There is a protest planned.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. Their purpose is the complete integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. They fight to remove legal, economic, and social discriminations that are placed upon people who are blind, legally blind, or who have visual impairments.
Right now, the NFB is very concerned about something that Amazon.com is doing. As you may know, Amazon makes the Kindle ebook reader. Amazon has been distributing Kindle e-readers and Kindle ebooks to K-12 schools across the United States. Sometimes, this is in the form of donations. The Kindle has a built in system called Whispercast, which allows teachers and school administrators to distribute Kindle content to devices other than Kindles.
What’s wrong with this? The problem is that the Kindle, and the book files that are used with it, are not accessible to students who are blind or who have other difficulties with print. This means that students who are blind aren’t going to have access to the material that is put onto the Kindle devices at their schools. The NFB points out:
Since school districts have an obligation under federal law to purchase or deploy only accessible technology and content, Amazon must either make Kindle e-books accessible or cease and desist from its efforts to have them used in the classroom.
This isn’t the first time that the NFB has asked Amazon to make its Kindle products accessible for people who are blind. You can read more about the history of the situation on the NFB website. It goes back at least as far as 2009.
On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, the National Federation of the Blind will be holding an informal protest about this issue. It is specifically about the distribution of inaccessible Kindle e-books in K-12 schools. The protest will take place outside of Amazon Headquarters in Seattle, Washington.
Does your child have a vision impairment? Do you have a loved one who is blind? If this issue is something that is important to you (for whatever reason), there are ways you can help. The National Federation of the Blind has some suggestions listed on their website for those who want to help convince Amazon to make Kindle accessible.
Image by jimmehomeschoolmom on Flickr