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Old 09-01-2012, 02:40 AM   #1
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DOJ goes after library for eReader programs

The DOJ and the Sacramento Public Library reached a settlement over the library's eReader program. Apparently a blind person complained about the eReader program. See article.
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:54 AM   #2
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Am I in bizarro world? A blind woman was disgruntled because she can't use an ereader.....*clears cobwebs from head*...am I missing something here? How is this discrimination? I hate to break it to this lady but she's BLIND, there are always going to be things she can't do; that's simply the hand that nature dealt her. Borrow a book on tape. And suing a library that is probably already hanging on by a thread is just low. Sorry.

Absurd.

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Old 09-01-2012, 03:14 AM   #3
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Old 09-01-2012, 05:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by xg4bx View Post
Am I in bizarro world? A blind woman was disgruntled because she can't use an ereader.....*clears cobwebs from head*...am I missing something here? How is this discrimination? I hate to break it to this lady but she's BLIND, there are always going to be things she can't do; that's simply the hand that nature dealt her. Borrow a book on tape. And suing a library that is probably already hanging on by a thread is just low. Sorry.

Absurd.
Agreed, but we live in the Nation of the Lawsuit!
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:53 AM   #5
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:58 AM   #6
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That's rather a different situation; it's understandable that University students, who could be put at an educational disadvantage, may have a legitimate cause for complaint. But this case seems entirely spurious to me. It would be like me complaining that the library bought books with colour pictures if I'm colour blind.
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:01 AM   #7
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This madness has got to stop somewhere!
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:16 AM   #8
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That's rather a different situation; it's understandable that University students, who could be put at an educational disadvantage, may have a legitimate cause for complaint. But this case seems entirely spurious to me. It would be like me complaining that the library bought books with colour pictures if I'm colour blind.
It was a limited-scope pilot to identify issues to be addressed in case they went with a full deployment. (Which in the end they did not.)
First, knee-jerk, reaction was to sue.
(shrug)
Modern practice is sue first, discuss later.
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:37 AM   #9
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:39 AM   #10
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It would be like me complaining that the library bought books with colour pictures if I'm colour blind.
I thinks it's like complaining that the library bought a conventional paper book, when they could have purchased it via Overdrive. In the latter case, blind patrons would have a number of viable although imperfect options.

Every purchasing decision a library makes favors some members of the reading public over others. Whether American librarians are such nice liberal people that they can be trusted to properly balance competing patron interests without much federal oversight is the kind of purely political question I nowadays try to stay away from on the internet.
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:50 AM   #11
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While a lawsuit may not have been the optimal approach, the libraries still have an obligation to obey the law, and when possible to offer the same services to the disabled as everyone else.

Someone who is blind can still get many benefits from an ebook reading device, including instant downloads of reading materials. The library should have chosen device(s) that could be used by the blind. (B&N also ought to incorporate text-to-speech options into their devices, if they want to be used as widely as possible.)

It would have been better if the patron in question had talked to the library, and only sued if the library was not responsive. However, such things are rarely done perfectly, and it's not like the patron demanded a financial reward -- just access to the materials.
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Old 09-01-2012, 08:24 AM   #12
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While a lawsuit may not have been the optimal approach, the libraries still have an obligation to obey the law, and when possible to offer the same services to the disabled as everyone else.

Someone who is blind can still get many benefits from an ebook reading device, including instant downloads of reading materials. The library should have chosen device(s) that could be used by the blind. (B&N also ought to incorporate text-to-speech options into their devices, if they want to be used as widely as possible.)

It would have been better if the patron in question had talked to the library, and only sued if the library was not responsive. However, such things are rarely done perfectly, and it's not like the patron demanded a financial reward -- just access to the materials.
Let's be honest though, how many blind people A) use the library, B) would even be interested in said program. I'd dare say the costs would far outweigh any benefits.

Like everything else in America, what may have started out as a good intention (the disabilities act) has mutated into an abomination and a form of abuse backed by the power of government. She should have gone to the library first and if it didn't work out, she should have shrugged and gone on with her life. Life is unfair sometimes. *shrug* I don't lose sleep because Abercrombie doesn't carry clothes that fit my husky boy needs. Likewise I wouldn't pitch a fit if a library didn't cater to my particular disability, it would be unfair to the other taxpayers to cater to my needs.

California is bankrupt, I don't know why they're buying ereaders in the first place but hey, that's just me.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:10 AM   #13
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Let's be honest though, how many blind people A) use the library
Nice attitude. Actually, that's pretty much the kind of attitude that resulted in the ADA being passed and enforced.

Yes, blind people do use libraries. They use audio books and, when available, braille books. It's actually a good thing to make libraries more accessible to the disabled.


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Originally Posted by xg4bx
I'd dare say the costs would far outweigh any benefits.
If B&N had included a text-to-speech option, or the library had used Amazon Kindles or some other e-ink device with text-to-speech, the costs would be the same. If they used iPads from the start, it'd probably cost them an extra $2000.

I.e. the costs really are not that significant.

If anything, it's B&N that has fallen down a bit on the job here, since they still don't offer text-to-speech on their ebook devices. Since it's going to lock them out of big markets like schools and libraries, perhaps something like this will convince them to get their act in gear and add text-to-speech.


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Originally Posted by xg4bx
Like everything else in America, what may have started out as a good intention (the disabilities act) has mutated into an abomination and a form of abuse backed by the power of government.
Take it to P&R kthx


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Originally Posted by xg4bx
She should have gone to the library first and if it didn't work out, she should have shrugged and gone on with her life.
She should have talked to the library first; I'm sure the library would at least have tried to reconfigure the program to accommodate the disabled. But if they did not subsequently fulfill their legal obligations, then they were violating the law.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:23 AM   #14
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Just an aside about text to speech, IIRC a book's DRM can disable that to prevent the kindle from being used to generate an "analog loophole" copy of a book. I'm sure we all know its potential effect on the blind, so why haven't there been any suits about that? How is this different from a library not having text to speech set up?
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:29 AM   #15
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This wouldn't be an issue if industry was held up to the same standards of government, i.e. B&N had to make their reader accessible for the visually impaired. It wouldn't even place a huge burden upon industry since they are only being asked to implement software based solutions. Even if there are royalties on that software, standard units could be shipped without it and accessible units could be shipped with it.

The thing is, the computer industry decided to disregard the enabling aspects of their technologies and focus upon features that weren't universally accessible in the early days.
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