On Campus

Arizona State faces lawsuit over Kindle use

Advocates for the blind say technology is discriminatory

According to The Chronicle for Higher Education, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind are suing Arizona State University for its use of the Amazon Kindle to distribute electronic textbooks to students.

While the technology does have a text-to-speech function that reads books aloud, the groups say blind students can’t purchase books, select a book to read, or even activate the text-to-speech function.

“While my peers will have instant access to their course materials in electronic form, I will still have to wait weeks or months for accessible texts to be prepared for me,” says journalism student and co-plaintiff Darrell Shandrow in a joint statement released by the groups after the lawsuit was filed last week. “These texts will not provide the access and features available to other students.”

A university spokesperson says the school is committed to accessibility. “Disability Resource Centers are located on all ASU campuses. The centers enable students to establish eligibility and obtain services and accommodations for qualified students with disabilities,” said Martha Dennis Christiansen in a statement.

In response to the story at the Chronicle, reactions to the lawsuit include:

“If you can’t adapt to the technology, the future will pass you by! The majority should not be held back because of the limitations of a few!”

“There’s no reason to deny a student access to textbooks. Improve the technology.”

“People with disabilities pay the same taxes as everyone else, and thus deserve equal access to public amenities. It’s federal law, people.”

What do you think? Let us know.

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