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Old 03-22-2011, 02:38 PM   #14
gastan
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: US Pacific Northwest
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I hate to be the one that keeps bringing up the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) whenever this topic comes forward because it makes me sound like I am opposed to etextbooks, which I definitely am not. I think ereaders and etextbooks will be a huge boon to education. However, I spent the last 7-10 years of my working life (I retired in 2007) specializing in upgrading commercial and school buildings to comply with the ADA rules. I know firsthand how intrusive and inflexible ADA can be.

I cannot help but wonder how long it will take before some group challenges this decision in court -- maybe never, but I wouldn't hold by breath. There have been continuing objections to ereaders as required devices. As late as last month an advocacy group objected to an agreement between Texas A&M University and Barnes & Noble that would have had B&N supplying textbooks and course materials through their NookStudy program. http://www.coataccess.org/node/9967

While the Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights, has not retreated from their "Dear Colleague" letter of June, 2010, which addressed the ADA law, the inequities of ereaders in regards to disabled students, and points of concern when considering ereaders in classrooms, ( http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/lis...-20100629.html ) they are trying to address the issue. In Oct, 2010, a collaborative program operating thru the University of Georgia received a 1.1 million dollar grant to study integrating ereaders into classrooms. ( http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/u-...-disabilities/ )

So far it seems that most complaints, and the Dept. of Education's responses, have centered on university level programs, but I don't see how high schools can hope to escape scrutiny from advocacy groups, especially when the devices will be, for all intents and purposes, required and not optional accessories to their programs. I cannot see ereaders becoming mainstream in American schools until all manufacturers selling to this market in the U.S. conform to ADA requirements. Until then every school that tries to implement ereaders into their classrooms will leave themselves wide open for an ADA lawsuit.

For an interesting article from a professional librarians viewpoint, check this link:
http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/com..._lucy.html.csp
In the comments following this article are links to how these problems are being addressed in the UK.
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