Amazon has been trying to make inroads in the educational market for the last six years and they have been consistently been stymied by the National Federation of the Blind. The organization has done everything from staging protests outside the Amazon Seattle headquarters and filing petitions to United States Departments of Education and Justice.
Over the course of the month Amazon won a $30 million dollar bid to provide the The New York City Department of Education to create a single, massive e-book marketplace for the city’s 1,800 public schools. The National Federation of the Blind has been sending the Educational Department over 10 different emails, trying to persuade them to cancel the deal and even threatened to stage a protest. The campaign worked and 24 hours before the final vote to approve the Amazon contract the Education Department officials issued their decision to postpone the initiative.
Amazon and the National Federation of the Blind have been at war with each other since 2008. Amazon originally tried to enter the educational market in 2009 and the NFB immediately filed a lawsuit and filed complaints against several of these institutions. These claims prompted a June 29, 2010, Joint Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice warning educational institutions not to purchase inaccessible technology. A follow-up FAQ from the Department of Education made it clear that the prohibition against the purchase of inaccessible technology also applied to libraries and K-12 schools. In a May 2013 letter, the Department of Education affirmed its position that a school would be in violation of federal law if it adopted technology that offers the features of Whispercast.
Everyone needs an arch-nemesis. He-man has Skeletor, Tigra has Mumra, GI.Joe has Cobra and Amazon has the National Federation of the Blind.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.