It seems that the Justice Department regards the Amazon Kindle, that wonderful device that is the first successful ebook reader and, in effect, a library in a thin box, as a civil rights violation. At least that is what Justice told some universities.
According to a Byron York story in the Washington Examiner:
“Last year, the schools — among them Princeton, Arizona State and Case Western Reserve — wanted to know if e-book readers would be more convenient and less costly than traditional textbooks. The environmentally conscious educators also wanted to reduce the huge amount of paper students use to print files from their laptops.
“It seemed like a promising idea until the universities got a letter from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, now under an aggressive new chief, Thomas Perez, telling them they were under investigation for possible violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.”
It seems that the Kindle was considered user-unfriendly for blind people. While the Kindle has a text-to-voice feature, the controls in the original version of the Kindle needed someone to see to operate. This design flaw was subsequently fixed in the more recent version of the Kindle.
Mind the idea that, unless a new technological device is fully accessible to people with disabilities, then no one should be permitted to access it seems to be an overly broad reading of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Older technology, such as televisions, films, and automobiles, are not generally accessible to the blind. But apparently not even the Obama Justice Department is disposed to ban those things until everyone can use them.
The idea of using a Kindle to store text books is a wonderful one. Anyone who has gone to college remembers the joys of lugging around heavy and overpriced text books from class to class on college campuses. Having a device like the Kindle, light and easy to carry, to store all of one’s text books at a fraction of the price of dead tree versions seem a boon to everyone. It is even environmentally correct, as it saves a lot of trees.
It is not that Amazon was unresponsive to the need to make the Kindle accessible to the blind. Amazon did not need threats from the Obama Justice Department to notice the design flaw and fix it. That is the way the free market works.
That, of course, is not stopping the Obama regime from making threats. Next up, making the Internet a “public accommodation” under the ADA. Let the litigation begin.
Why did feds claim Kindle violates civil rights?, Byron York, Washington Examiner, August 3rd, 2010