The National Federation of the Blind is planning a massive protest outside Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle Washington on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. The organization is not happy with Amazon’s push into the educational sphere that will alienate young kids with disabilities.
John G. Paré Jr. of the NFB told us that “Amazon Kindle ebooks are currently not fully accessible to the blind, and Amazon has made little to no effort to maintain or improve accessibility to these products, while at the same time claiming that they are accessible. The main reason that Kindle ebooks are currently inappropriate for blind students in the K-12 classroom is that a blind student cannot do the type of detailed, granular reading with Kindle ebooks that is needed for schoolwork. The accessibility features and devices currently allow for only the most casual reading, and even that is problematic. At a time when other e-readers allow blind people to read letter by letter or word by word if needed, through Braille or audio, the Amazon reading experience is no better than listening to a book recorded on an old cassette tape with no navigation features.”
Chris Danielson of the National Federation of the Blind expanded on the situation, telling me that “The National federation of the Blind is taking our concerns about the inaccessibility of kindle ebooks directly to Amazon’s doorstep in hopes that the company will quickly rectify the accessibility barriers that prevent blind people, and particularly blind students, from the full use and enjoyment of Kindle ebooks. If Amazon will take these necessary steps, then the company will help to achieve full and equal access to books for blind people for the first time in human history. We hope that Amazon will take this opportunity to truly expand access to written knowledge for everyone.”
You can find out more information on the protest and get templates to send off to Amazon and other retailers on the NFB main website.
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 CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.