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US DOJ Says Kindle In Classroom Hurts Blind Students

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the harrison-bergeron-please-report-to-the-front-office dept.

The Courts 492

angry tapir writes "Three US universities will stop promoting the use of Amazon.com's Kindle DX e-book reader in classrooms after complaints that the device doesn't give blind students equal access to information. Settlements with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Pace University in New York City and Reed College in Portland, Oregon, were announced Wednesday by the US Department of Justice. The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind had complained that use of the Kindle devices discriminates against students with vision problems."

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Hmm, this seems illogical. (5, Insightful)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757968)

How does the kindle discriminate against the blind any more than, say, A BOOK?

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758032)

As a partially sighted person[1] I'm trying to figure this out...hang on...um...uh..nearly there...uh...no.

Nope sorry, no idea. Still I'm sure The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind are patting themselves on the back for holding back the majority of students while in no way impacting any partially sighted or blind student in any way what-so-ever. Good for them!

[1]: I have partial sight in my right eye due to several holes in my retina, one of which is directly in the center of my vision.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758046)

Besides, retards can't usually read anyway.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758310)

WTF douchebag, I read TFA and I don't see any "real book" alternative mentioned in the article. Maybe you're the retard that can't read.

I also think it's pretty spurious that the DOJ is involved in dictating how Amazon should make the Kindle more user friendly for visually impaired people. As if the DOJ gives a rat's ass about the needs of the blind, it seems more like they're trying to delay acceptance of the Kindle in higher ed, in order to allow other manufacturers readers to catch up.

Sweet use of my tax dollars. Thanks.

Kindle lacks navigation for visually impaired (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758486)

The problem isn't e-books or readers per-se. The Kindle even includes a text to speech application. But the Kindle lacks a way for visually impaired readers to navigate, and so, it is absolutely useless as it is. All that needs to be done is to tie the user interface into the text to speech application. That's it. Until that very, very simple problem is solved, colleges and universities are correct not to promote the use of this device. A good bit of publicity early on will ensure that all e-book readers in the future have this simple feature.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758070)

What did schools do pre-Kindle? Shun books that weren't also available in Braille?

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758072)

Well, books can be typed in braille, the kindle cannot... The issue might be that with a kindle, the e-books are very accessible compared to your standard book (probably cheaper?). Maybe the organization thinks it's an unfair advantage?

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (4, Insightful)

Soilworker (795251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758178)

books company didn't stop releasing books in braille after the kindle release, blind student still can buy them.

How is it a unfair advantage ? I should always wear something that cover my eyes because it's unfair for them if I can see with my two eyes ?

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (4, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758222)

Well, books can be typed in braille, the kindle cannot...

Sure it can [wikipedia.org] . Maybe The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind should get off their asses and sponsor it.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758404)

Maybe they take a cue from the Internet and start with braille porn [funnyjunk.com] to help fund growth?

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (3, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758228)

Well, books can be typed in braille, the kindle cannot... The issue might be that with a kindle, the e-books are very accessible compared to your standard book (probably cheaper?). Maybe the organization thinks it's an unfair advantage?

1: Sure e-books can be put into "braille". There are even a plethora of devices that'll do it, or just read teh darn thing aloud.

2: Braille books are EXPENSIVE. They have a far smaller audience, need thicker paper, usually can use only one side of the paper... and can't be printed out on the same equipment as everyone else's books.

Given those two, the association at play should demand GREATER adoption of e-books -- it's a printed book that the blind cannot read, not a properly formatted e-book

Ebooks not the problem, kindle navigation is (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758362)

I know no one reads the articles, as that would get in the way of the knee-jerking we all love to do. But the article makes it quite clear: the kindle includes a text-to-speech application, but no way for visually impaired folks to navigate. Therefore, the Kindle is not the right choice of e-book reader for institutions such as colleges and universities to promote. It is the Kindle that is unusable by the blind, not the e-books themselves.

Re:Ebooks not the problem, kindle navigation is (4, Interesting)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758450)

But yet the fact remains it is currently *more* accessible to the disabled than a regular textbook. So let's not have an improvement because we should hold out for an even better improvement?

Re:Ebooks not the problem, kindle navigation is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758490)

That still is a strange stance to take when special books have to be purchased for the blind, so why wouldn't special e-book readers be purchased while leaving the majority using a Kindle.

Lowest Common Denominator mentality (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758082)

"If you can have it and I can't I'll sue" - Pretty soon kids are lucky to have access to food and clothing, let alone an education. It's a losing strategy compared to say innovating and catering to diversity. Why can't they lobby for an ebook reader that does cater to the blind. Perhaps popup braile? Instead of wasting effort sending all your kids minds back to the stone age. Doesn't have to be a Kindle either. Leave the brand names out of it.

Canadian Healthcare like this too (3, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758414)

It is illegal for a resident of Canada covered by Canadian health care (say, a citizen, or landed immigrant) to pay for health care, and illegal for a health care provider to charge if they are in the "voluntary" system (which covers 99%+ of the population who can not legally pay anyway) which effectively forces almost all providers to be "in" the system. (There are specialty private clinics catering to non-citizen athletes, etc.)

This is similar to the socialized medicine systems in Cuba and North Korea (but, not, for example, the U.K. and other places with "two tier" socialized health care systems).

The argument is exactly this: it is unfair for some to have what others do not, even if they can pay for it.

This has some interesting effects: When I displayed my American-born son's American passport, he was seen in the clinic ahead of any Canadians who were there ahead of him. See, non-covered persons must pay, and pay more than the clinic receives from the government, so they get first dibs while Canadians wait in line.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (4, Interesting)

Simulant (528590) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758096)

RTFA, there's no speech to UI control on a Kindle. They can't navigate the software or e-books even if the Kindle can read it to them. Regular books are available in braille.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758166)

what textbooks are available as an ebook but not a regular book

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758126)

There are already provisions to provide audio or braille versions of books for blind kids. The Kindle's book licences, not so much. The devices are supposed to have built-in TTS but there's a strong pressure from the books-on-tape industry to hobble it.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

huit (1285438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758176)

Oh no the books on tape lobby are here...seriously?

Shhhhh (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758196)

You're talking COMMON SENSE there. If you're not careful, the agents of PC and Government interference will show up and arrest you.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758240)

Because books can be in braille. If you only offer eReaders, you've severely hampered the blind from the educational experience.

And text-to-speech technology sucks. It's slow, and all too often, wrong. (e.g. My GPS always says, "Exit right towards San Wasette continue for 26 miles to Sangria [wikipedia.org] ." None of these locations exist. It's San Jose and Santa Cruz, TomTom.) Also, you can't very well skim through an audio track like you can a book. It's just awkward.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758298)

Textbooks come in BRAILLE versions. Kindle does not. (Their voice to text has been sabotaged.)

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758302)

Braille? It seems like the Kindle could support the blind with a few modifications instead of going down the route of "if we can't use it then no one can."

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758340)

"How does the kindle discriminate against the blind any more than, say, A BOOK?"

Simple: by forcing Amazon to come out with a new device that caters more to their needs, 0.3% of the population [center4research.org] (~1 million blind vs 300 million Americans) forces the other 99.7% of the population to pay for all the hardware and software advances required for them to use the device.

Completely fair IMHO

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

seededfury (699094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758344)

i was under the impression that the new kindles could read out loud... interesting. http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Wireless-Reading-Device-Display/dp/B00154JDAI [amazon.com] Read-to-Me: With the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you, unless the book's rights holder made the feature unavailable

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

seededfury (699094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758370)

in addition i don't see why they can't implement voice controls as well....

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (2, Interesting)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758388)

I wonder if there is a precedent related to computers in class. I mean not that mice were precisely designed to give blind people any advantage.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758428)

It does not discriminate against the blind in any way!
If more people use the kindle, the economy of the situation would reduce the necessity to print paper books for students.

In other words, it would free up a helluva more resources to invest in Braille printers and paper!
But you're right, wtf were The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind thiking!!

I must conclude that it's a psychologically blind federation that's really up to no good! Sheesh!

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758442)

Because a book can be cut up, scanned, and OCR'd as most school disability services departments will do for free. Then it's just a matter of using your choice of screen reader. The proprietary DRM that the kindle uses, on the other hand, allows you no such access to data that you've ostensibly purchased, despite the fact that it would be far easier for them to provide an accessible system than traditional books.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1, Interesting)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758452)

Speaking as a legally blind person, when I was going through school if a large print version of a text or reading assignment wasn't readily available we used to strip the book binding and use a Xerox machine to enlarge the text page by page, rebind the old book, bind the enlarged version and then I'd be all set.

Schools aren't going to be doing much with the Kindle with all the DRM lock in etc...

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758472)

Daredevil, a blind guy, can feel the print on a page so he could read it wheras he or similar people lacking sight but having other superhuman senses would not be able to read a kindle. So that's at least one fictional character to whom a kindle would be more of an obstacle than a book.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758494)

It doesn't discriminate, lawmakers are just morons. Also, the Kindle plays AUDIO BOOKS as well as any MP3 file you can put on it.

Re:Hmm, this seems illogical. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758500)

ah - this is an e book reader - READER! it can READ for you if needed - right?

Uhmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30757972)

Blind students don't have anywhere close to the access to information seeing people do... Not sure what the point is here

Re:Uhmm (4, Informative)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758134)

As it stands right now, the Kindle doesn't have text-to-speech in the menu. Theoretically, if you can use the menu, you can use the Kindle (2 or DX, at least) to read to you using text-to-speech.

The thing is, Amazon has announced previously that they're working on enabling text-to-speech in the menu, so that particular issue will be moot (although I don't know what the timeline is). The bigger problem is that publishers can disable the text-to-speech in their e-books on the Kindle, which would render an accessible menu fairly pointless. (The same groups mentioned in the article also have been trying to pressure those publishers who have disabled it (e.g., Random House) to re-enable text-to-speech in their Kindle e-books.)

Big Government apologists chime in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30757984)

in 3... 2... 1...

Re:Big Government apologists chime in... (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758170)

You must be new here.

Amazon should love this precedent (4, Interesting)

Phat_Tony (661117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757992)

So, all Amazon needs to do is add a text-to-speech feature, and then they can sue any school that tries to use paper books instead of the Kindle, because compared to a text-to-speech Kindle, paper devices discriminate against students with vision problems.

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (5, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758036)

So, all Amazon needs to do is turn back on the text-to-speech feature...

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (5, Informative)

Avalain (1321959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758094)

And from TFA...

"he Kindle DX has the capability to convert text to synthesized speech, but the device does not include text-to-speech functionality for its menu and navigational controls, the DOJ said in a press release. "

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (4, Informative)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758200)

Actually, that's half-right. Kindle e-books can have text-to-speech capabilities, but many publishers (e.g., Random House, Penguin) disable it. What Amazon can do (and is working on) is to use text-to-speech in the Kindle's menu, so that the visually impaired (i.e., blind or legally blind) can navigate the menus to get to the e-books, which can then be read through text-to-speech (assuming it's not disabled).

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (2, Interesting)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758102)

But text-to-speech violates the rights of publishing companies who sell audiobooks for grossly inflated prices to people who like to "listen" to books while they are stuck in traffic every morning on their daily commute. It's therapeutic. Enabling text-to-speech would cause the publishers to sue.

It's a viscous cycle.

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (4, Funny)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758226)

It's a viscous cycle.

What does liquid resistance have to do with it?

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758244)

It's a viscous cycle.

Kinda like mayonaise.

Re:Amazon should love this precedent (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758458)

>>It's a viscous cycle.

>Kinda like mayonaise.

I think he meant the monthly thing my girlfriend goes through. I stay at my parents those days.

I don't understand (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#30757998)

Okay, I do understand the technicalities regarding why they say the Kindle is not as accessible to blind students as it is to sighted students. But what I don't get is - how is it different from the status quo? Blind students can't read regular textbooks already. What is it we can do for them with a printed textbook that we can't do with an electronic textbook?

And don't bring up braille, since that is a separate edition that has to be produced (and is thus independent of whether the "normal" book is on paper or electronic).

Re:I don't understand (1)

Zencyde (850968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758090)

Fortunately, it would be possible to create an e-book that could accept text input and output it as braille. Of course, the question is, why doesn't this already exist?

Re:I don't understand (1)

yenne (1366903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758246)

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw!

Re:I don't understand (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758248)

I don't know about high school, but at both colleges my (blind) girlfriend has been to, the standard is that the student buys the paper textbook, and then the school's disability services department cuts the book up and scans and OCRs it so that they can view the book with a screen-reader. It's just as cheap as it is for all the other students, and they get the ability to resell the book just like everyone else (in fact, used book buyers apparently prefer books that have been rebound the way disability services at her current school does it). Of course, ebooks theoretically improve this whole situation a lot by giving you an already (perfectly) digitized copy of the text. In practice, the DRM that all the publishing companies are so fond of turn what could be a huge win for accessibility into a nightmare.

braille kindle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758008)

may they could come up with a braille version as well!

Quick, get rid of normal books too! (1)

fiordhraoi (1097731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758012)

You need a completely different model with different capabilities (braille) for blind people to access the information. And somehow a kindle that doesn't have voice controls for the menu is less blind-friendly than a normal book? When will people learn that Reality does indeed discriminate?

ADA? (1)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758014)

Has anyone else's universities been forcing ADA notices on their class syllabi? All of my classes have a little ADA Notice at the bottom stating that if one has any known and accepted disabilities they should contact the professor to make any sort of arrangements necessary. I'm thinking my school got in some sort of crap legal trouble and that's why the message is there.

Re:ADA? (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758184)

Chances are, it isn't that they got in trouble but are simply covering their rears against some idiot student expecting the professor to know that one of his 2,000 students is disabled and wants to sue because the professor doesn't have psycic powers.

Re:ADA? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758230)

Interesting. We used to do that without being told to.

For example: uh, professor, I have an, um, medical thing I have to do the day of the exam. Do you think I could write it next week instead?

Re:ADA? (1)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758288)

There's a difference between faking sick and actually having a disability.

Re:ADA? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758272)

It's not necessarily because they got into legal trouble. It might be that they're trying to avoid legal trouble. Handicapped/disabled students are allowed certain accommodations, depending on their particular problem. For example, a deaf student might be entitled to a sign language interpreter, a student with a learning disability might be allowed more time on tests, a blind person might be allowed to have a companion dog in class, etc. I would imagine that any student who would be affected by this would probably know to mention it without having to be reminded, but that might not be the case.

Re:ADA? (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758278)

I'm thinking my school got in some sort of crap legal trouble and that's why the message is there.

Or their merely being helpful, given that all universities have a disability resource center that provide things like sign language interpreters, and special testing sessions for those with learning disabilities.

Seriously, why are you so bent out of shape out of 12 words printed at the bottom of a page?

I've been in class with blind student. He'd bring his guide dog. The TA would make ball and peg models of whatever chemical were discussing at the time (it was chem 101), and would give it to him so he could "see" what she was talking about. How he took tests, I don't know. I guess someone would read him the questions, or translate the test into braille or something. He never took tests with the rest of us.

Somebody please tell the DOJ (5, Insightful)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758018)

That Harrison Bergeron is a warning........not a fucking "how-to" manual.

http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html [tnellen.com]

Re:Somebody please tell the DOJ (-1, Troll)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758304)

I can only hope the googles serve you better than they did Rainier Wolfcastle.

Honestly, what do you have against educating the blind?

really? (1)

xirusmom (815129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758028)

As long as they provide an alternative access to the same info, what is the problem?
Or are they going to close stairways because some people cannot use them?

What!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758034)

That's like saying computer science shouldn't be taught because blind people can't read C++. This kind of pandering is ridiculous. Not only that, but this is at private universities, not state ones, so I don't think any of these statutes should apply.

On the other hand, I think kindle should have a read-aloud feature, even if just rudimentary. I just don't know how they would implement it when it comes to graphs and figures.

Re:What!?!? (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758152)

I work for a large multinational engineering company, and I interviewed a profoundly blind chap for a position as a software developer. Discussing his requirements with him, it was clear he could handle reading & writing C++ - speech output tools are available. Unfortunately he couldn't handle UML diagrams as there there are no tools available to 'read out' what are effectively pictures. Pity really.

Sadly, there is no money in developing technology for the blind as they represent such a small market. If the ratio of visually impaired to sighted was reversed, I bet it would be a different story!

( I worked on the design of a braille radio pager back in the 1990's, which got nowhere for that reason. )

Re:What!?!? (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758324)

Unfortunately he couldn't handle UML diagrams as there there are no tools available to 'read out' what are effectively pictures.

The real shame is the only companies that use UML (or at least pretend to) are those that got duped into spending $25000+ on a UML "solution". UML is the biggest waste of time since homemade butter.

Re:What!?!? (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758376)

>UML is the biggest waste of time since homemade butter.

Amen to that!

It's like doing cosmetic surgery with gardening implements

Re:What!?!? (1)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758372)

Actually, computer science is one of the most accessible curricula. All the student would really need would be a screen reader, and there are several readily available.

As for the ADA, Title III of the law applies to all schools, not just public ones. this [disabled-world.com] explains it fairly well.

Harrison Bergeron (0, Redundant)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758040)

Is it just me, or are stories like this one becoming all too common? It seems we are becoming a society of "if everyone can't have it, then nobody can!" Unless of course they are individually wealthy, in which case they will simply BUY the damn thing.

So, sighted (and poor) students are deprived because blind students can't have the same advantages. Suppose a device was invented that allowed only blind people to receive information. Do you think there would be an outcry from the sighted world that it wasn't "fair" and so should be kept out of their hands?

your highest achievable standard.,.. (4, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758048)

...is the capability of the lowest common denominator.

Braille doesn't provide much access to those with no arms.

DOJ in classroom... (3, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758056)

The DOJ in the classroom hurts everyone.

Re:DOJ in classroom... (0, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758252)

I don't see how this post is a troll and I think its actually quite insightful myself. Whenever you have government involved in education, it generally fails. Look at public schools for one example. Public universities usually aren't too bad because they don't get 100% of their funding from the state and have to be decent or no one will go to them and they close.

hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758064)

this will give rise to invention of programmable tactile feedback by means of alterable physical surfaces.

Have the blind sued the car makers? (1, Redundant)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758066)

You see none of the cars are designed to be driven by the blind. The blind do not get equal access to the roads from cars. So have they sued the car makers? Or the car makers have been grandfathered out of the ADA?

Re:Have the blind sued the car makers? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758328)

Blind people can easily read ... braille. Kindle on the other hand has sabotaged their text to voice capabilities. Now consider if their existed a car that came with auto-drive functionality that a blind person could use and then someone disabled it. You bet blind people would sue the car companies.

Re:Have the blind sued the car makers? (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758484)

But there ISN'T a car with auto-drive functionality. So the fact that the Kindle's text to speech features have been disabled is a moot point.

Re:Have the blind sued the car makers? (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758360)

Your analogy is pretty heavily flawed. There's nothing fundamentally impossible about a blind person going through school and receiving an education. Reading is an activity that we have centuries of experience in making accessible, and with ebooks it could be as simple as including a non-braindead text-to-speech system in your ebook reader.

Limitation (2, Interesting)

McGuirk (1189283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758074)

Yes, let's limit EVERYONE because a select few can't use a new technology.

The blind have always needed special teaching tools (Braille, audio books, or someone to read for them), so this isn't like a step backward or anything.

I feel for the blind, and they should definitely be accommodated, but not using eBook readers where they could be beneficial to others is not a good idea.

Re:Limitation (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758254)

Yes, let's limit EVERYONE because a select few can't use a new technology.

The blind have always needed special teaching tools (Braille, audio books, or someone to read for them), so this isn't like a step backward or anything.

I feel for the blind, and they should definitely be accommodated, but not using eBook readers where they could be beneficial to others is not a good idea.

I think the point is, they *CAN* be accommodated - the Kindle UI can be speech enabled with a simple firmware update, allowing the blind to use ebooks as long as the publisher allows it. Or the legally blind might not be able to nagivate the UI, but read the Kindle books fine because of the ability to display the text in very large type.

And I'm sure there's probably some law saying all textbooks must be available in a Braille format, since it's fairly trivial to actually produce them in that format.

And the blind are perhaps the best to navigate this text-to-speech nonsense by butting heads with publishers. Remember when various libraries wanted to share audiobooks created for the blind, and how publishers were very much against it? And how text-to-speech isn't the same as an audiobook performance.

Re:Limitation (2, Interesting)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758296)

Isn't it in fact discriminatory when a select few get specialized teaching tools, and those outside of the specialized group are excluded from using specialized teaching tools? Blind kids get special tools that seeing kids don't benefit from, but the inverse is unjust? Ooops, forgot the DOJ doesn't use logic in making decisions...

The settlement details will make you puke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758086)

The settlement includes poking out the eyes of the blind kid's classmates.

In other news (4, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758098)

There aren't any blind NASCAR drivers.

Take away everyones eyes! (2, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758108)

Clearly, the only way to be fair to the blind is to rip out everyone elses eyeballs so we're all equal. If no one can READ A BOOK or use a kindle than there will be no discrimination.

This is obviously a clear cut case of intentional discrimination against the blind, just like those evil bastards who invented the printing press.

Let me give you a hint. You're blind. You can not do the same things as people who aren't blind. It sucks, but thats just fucking reality. Stop expecting everyone else to cater to you. You make your own way in this world, start acting like you deserve a place in the world.

It could be a lot worse. If were were anything like ... oh ... every other living organism on the planet, the blind wouldn't live long enough to know what school ways, let alone bitch about not being able to use the device (kindle) that is replacing another device (traditional book) that you couldn't use either.

There is no discrimination, just some retards trying to get money for themselves by ranting about discrimination against a group of people. The only problem is, the thing doing the discrimination is nature and chaos, and they can't sue that.

So take away everyones eyes. Then we'll all support the blind better. We'll all be on a level FAIR playing field, and as a bonus, we'll never see another flash movie again. It makes total sense.

Re:Take away everyones eyes! (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758312)

You only wrote that because you know the blind can't read it. Clever bastard! =D

Re:Take away everyones eyes! (3, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758412)

Wow, so full of hate. You see there are these things called BRAILLE TEXTBOOKS. But when the school starts pushing kindle (with real cost savings for sighted people), and at the same time refuses to use a DIFFERENT READER that has TEXT TO VOICE, then YES the blind people got a case. This is not about the school offering an ebook reader. It is about the school PUSHING an ebook reader that does NOT have the same capacities that other existing ebook readers do have. Yeah, I know you are full of your self and insisting that other people MUST be suing for no reasons. But if you had a brain you would realize that sometimes law suits are actually about real discrimination. Like this one.

Blind Leading the Blind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758112)

So having an advance in technology like, Blackboards, Slide projectors, TV, even video projectors that leave the blind at a disadvantage should stop them from being used as teaching aids in classrooms because the lowest common denominator cannot benifit fully from them?

Sounds fine, oh wait I'm deaf. So lectures, teachers that can't sign and any form of audio presentation is bad.

OR, you know, we can all live in "not crazy land". Then we could give them brail ebook readers like there should bave been around before visual ebooks!

oh god (3, Insightful)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758162)

maybe they can force sighted students to wear blindfolds in class in future so that the blind have equal footing

stupidity at its best (1)

frakir (760204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758208)

If politically correct DOJ was designing Olimpics games today, they would have to make sure obese people have the same chance of winning gymnastics or marathon competition as fit people.
  And Mensa would be an illegal organization.
And passing US citizenship test would require no knowledge of English... oh wait...

Re:stupidity at its best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758294)

My citizenship test was in English.

Re:stupidity at its best (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758332)

If you think that's bad, just imagine if the politically correct DOJ was designing all of the porn videos...

Re:stupidity at its best (1)

frakir (760204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758492)

what, no midget porn?

The Kindle has the ablity to do audio (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758264)

It can convert words to audio itself. It doesn't do so so well but it is passable. The solution is simply to improve that feature, not kick the Kindles out of the classroom.

Re:The Kindle has the ablity to do audio (3, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758410)

It can convert words to audio itself. Not necessarily [authorsguild.org]

I've said it before (1)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758276)

But when it's all "kindle" type devices then the information on the units can be "patched" or "updated" to fit the current political climate.
For example a story in a printed book is fairly fixed once you have the book, with a kindle if the story is deemed "offensive" it can instantly be edited and changed from what the original author wrote.
I guess I'm old (48) but I will always prefer the tactile sensation of an actual book to a kindle, and yes I have used a kindle.

benefit the few (0, Flamebait)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758316)

once again benefits for the many have been choked for benefits for the few.

I Can't Believe this, Colleges already bend over to do so much for blind students.

I've seen classes where they had a aid in the class to take chalkboard/teacher notes for the blind/deaf, even if the class only had one blind student. So they were commenting a whole man hour to benefit one student. Colleges tend to have a whole office staff for helping students with such disabilities, I'm sure if the book was not already in Braille, the college could get it transcribed.

bad standards (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758322)

Doesn't this really say something about deficiencies in the current e-ink and e-book implementations? I mean, if you have text in electronic format it should be nearly trivial to convert to braille/speech/what have you. I say throw out the damn thing from classrooms everywhere until the vendors fix that.

Harrison Bergeron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758352)

I think it's unfair that able-bodied students can get around campus quicker than the physically handicapped. All able-bodied students should be made to wear bags of birdshot during school hours.

I am so tired of the attitide... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758384)

...that giving something to one person is equivalent to taking something from another.

Like I tell my 4 year old all the time: "So what if your cousin got a toy you didn't? Isn't it nice that she got a toy that made her happy? We're happy for her aren't we? Not mad we didn't get one too." At which point the 4 year old thinks about it and decides that's right and goes and pats his cousin on the back and is all smiles again.

If he gets it why can the rest of the adult world?

The other Point of View (or lack thereof) (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758394)

You know, when I was a child before I got involved with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind they used to sit me in a corner while the other children learnt silly things like how to read.

If a device like the Kindle is used in the classroom what are visually impaired children supposed to do? Download illegal text versions and run them through text to speech?

Damn "sighty" keepin' the blind man down!

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758418)

So, I shouldn't be able to have a Kindle because a blind people can't use it??? FUCK THAT! They still have book in braille and on tape? Should I have to give up my car because a blind person can't use it? So, the 99.999% of students have to go without because of the few who can't use it? Thank you very much!

Let's take this to it's logical extreme (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30758444)

Attractive supermodels should be required by law to date just as many overweight computer geeks living in their mom's basement as rich, attractive, professional athletes. We're being discriminated against! Tiger Woods is getting more pussy than we do!

Remove all visual media NOW (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30758464)

I actually have a blind child, and even I think this is ridiculous.

Based on this line of thinking, all LCD screens, whiteboards, books, and writing devices other than hole punchers and braile stampers should be immediately removed from all Public schools and government buildings. These devices hurt blind students and citizens.

That case should have been IMMEDIATELY tossed out of court based on the sheer stupidty of the argument. Then the lawyers should have been found in contempt of court and incompetent to practice law.

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