US: Suit settled over Kindle navigation by the blind

The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind have settled a lawsuit against Arizona State University over its plan to deploy the Kindle DX among students, writes Jacqui Cheng for Ars Technica. The settlement involves no monetary damages, but the university agreed to use devices that are more accessible to the blind if it chooses to deploy e-book readers in the coming years. If Amazon wants to be part of that deployment, it had better up its accessibility game.

The groups originally filed suit against Arizona State University and the Arizona Board of Regents in June 2009 after the university began a pilot programme to distribute electronic textbooks to students via the Kindle DX. The problem was that the Kindle only supports limited text-to-speech capabilities - users can have the device read books aloud, but the menu system and Kindle Store (among other things) were not part of this feature. As a result, blind students were unable to navigate the device, or even turn on the text-to-speech feature in the first place, without help from a seeing friend. This, according to the NFB and ACB, was a violation of both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Full report on the Ars Technia site