Saturday, September 01, 2012

DOJ and NFB Reach Settlement with Sacramento Public Library Over Inaccessible E-Readers

See Wednesday's DOJ press release, which begins:
The Justice Department announced today that it and the National Federation of the Blind have reached a settlement with the Sacramento Public Library Authority in Sacramento, Calif., to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The agreement resolves allegations that the library violated the ADA by using inaccessible Barnes & Noble NOOK electronic reader devices in a patron lending program.

Under the settlement agreement, the library will not acquire any additional e-readers for patron use that exclude persons who are blind or others with disabilities who need accessible features such as text-to-speech functions or the ability to access menus through audio or tactile options. The library has also agreed to acquire at least 18 e-readers that are accessible to persons with disabilities. The settlement agreement also requires the library to train its staff on the requirements of the ADA.

“Emerging technologies like e-readers are changing the way we interact with the world around us and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the programs where these devices are used,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.
Here's the NFB press release:
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s leading advocate for access to information by the blind and other people with print disabilities, announced today that a complaint filed by the NFB with the United States Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, against the Sacramento Public Library Authority has been resolved. The NFB filed the complaint last fall because the library was lending NOOK e-readers preloaded with e-books to its patrons. Unlike some other e-reading devices, the NOOK, which is manufactured and sold by Barnes & Noble,cannot be used by blind and print-disabled readers because it does not have text-to-speech capability or the ability to send content to a Braille display.

The goal of the agreement is “to provide a library e-reader circulation program where library patrons, with and without vision disabilities, are able to access and use the same technology to the maximum extent possible.” Under the agreement, the library will “acquire only technology that does not exclude persons who are blind or others” who need accessibility features such as text-to-speech or Braille output and the ability to access the device’s menus and controls independently. The library’s commitment is also in line with a resolution passed in 2009 by the American Library Association entitled Purchasing of Accessible Electronic Resources, which urged “all libraries purchasing, procuring, using, maintaining and contracting for electronic resources and services” to “require vendors to guarantee that products and services comply with Section 508 regulations, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, or other applicable accessibility standards and guidelines.” 
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are pleased that the Sacramento Public Library Authority is showing leadership by ensuring that the e-books that it lends will be accessible to all of its patrons, including those who are blind or have print disabilities. E-books represent an opportunity for the blind to have access to the same books at the same time as our sighted friends, family, and colleagues, but sadly most e-book vendors have not designed their technology so that it can be used by the blind, despite the fact that it is not difficult or costly to do so. Libraries, schools, and other institutions have a legal and moral obligation to make sure that the content they deploy is accessible to the blind and print-disabled. If they meet these obligations by demanding accessibility from their e-book vendors, then accessibility will happen.”
The settlement is here.  This is a big deal in the efforts both DOJ and NFB have taken to ensure the use of accessible e-reader technology by ADA-covered entities.

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