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Universities ordered to stop using Kindle until functional for blind

Three universities testing the Amazon Kindle in the classroom have agreed to stop using the e-book readers until they are fully functional for blind students, according to a deal stuck with the U.S. Justice Department.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Three universities testing the Amazon Kindle in the classroom have agreed to stop using the e-book readers until they are fully functional for blind students, according to a deal stuck with the U.S. Justice Department.

The original pilot program, announced last May, was made with Arizona State, Princeton, Case Western and Pace universities and Reed College.

Amazon provided large-format Kindle DX devices free of charge to students, which retail for more than $489 and claim to reduce the amount of course materials that students print by holding approx. 3,500 electronic books.

"Advancing technology is systematically changing the way universities approach education, but we must be sure that emerging technologies offer individuals with disabilities the same opportunities as other students," Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in prepared remarks.

"These agreements underscore the importance of full and equal educational opportunities for everyone."

The legal settlement was made with Pace, Case Western Reserve and Reed. A similar deal was struck with Arizona State University two days ago.

The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind filed a lawsuit citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act after the program was first announced.

The Kindle used in the pilot program has a text-to-speech function, but its menu does not, leaving the device impossible to use for blind students trying to navigate electronic textbooks.

The agreement, which covers e-book readers made by Sony, Barnes & Noble and others, takes effect once the upcoming spring semester ends.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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