Universities drop ‘discriminatory’ Kindle DX

Universities in four states in the United States have agreed to halt schemes to use electronic reading devices until they are fully usable by blind people. The decision concludes a Justice Department investigation over the use of Amazon’s Kindle DX.

The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind had sued the universities for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The groups complained that using the devices meant blind people were not getting equal opportunities in education.

Although the Kindle DX used in the universities does have a text-to-speech facility, it only applies to the book and magazine content itself. The device’s menu system is visual only, meaning a blind person can’t actually access the text-to-speech tool without assistance.

The affected universities are Case Western (Ohio), Pace (New York), Reed College (Oregon) and Arizona State. Though all four cases involved the Kindle DX, the agreement covers all makes and models of electronic reader.