Arizona State settles Kindle lawsuit

Last summer I blogged about the lawsuit involving Arizona State University's use of the Kindle DX and it's inaccessibility to the blind. I couldn't quite get my head around that one and neither could most readers.

Last summer I blogged about the lawsuit involving Arizona State University's use of the Kindle DX and it's inaccessibility to the blind. I couldn't quite get my head around that one and neither could most readers.

Students in the honors history of human culture and thought course at Arizona State University will be receiving Kindle ebook readers with the 30 required books for the course pre-loaded...30 books is a lot for a single class; it actually makes it fairly easy to justify a Kindle (or Kindle-like device), especially since most of the books would not be expected to be textbooks....Unfortunately for most of the students in the class, The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind don’t agree with me.

However, it appears that Arizona State has settled the lawsuit and admitted no wrong-doing. In fact, the lawsuit is largely moot now, as Amazon is adding spoken-menu navigation to the Kindle, as well as a large print mode, making it fully accessible to visually impaired users.

The Washington Post cited several reasons for the successful settlement:

ASU's commitment to providing access to all programs and facilities for students with disabilities, the fact that the pilot program will end in the Spring of 2010 and the university's agreement that should ASU deploy e-book readers in future classes over the next two years, it will strive to use devices that are accessible to the blind.

Obviously, it's a good thing that Amazon is adding accessibility features; they should have done it in the first place. However, with neither side admitting wrongdoing and both essentially just agreeing that e-readers should be accessible to the blind, this seems like an awful lot of money that could have been spent elsewhere. Say, for example, developing an accessible iPhone or Android app that reads books to the visually impaired.

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