We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the trouble public libraries can find themselves in if they make the mistake of purchasing tablets or e-readers that aren’t accessible to the disabled. Both the Sacramento Public Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia, for instance, have become the subject of lawsuits as a result of their non-accessible Nook e-readers.
Some public schools, of course, have ended up in similar situations. It seems to me that a fairly obviously hole exists in the e-reader marketplace at the moment, and it’ll be interesting to see if a e-reader manufacturer eventually steps forward to create an all-accessible device. Honestly, that would come as a surprise to me, since a relevant software program–for Android tablets, say–could probably be produced a lot quicker, and for much less money.
Earlier today, Good E-Reader posted an interesting piece about this very problem; it’s titled, “The Vision Problem – Why eReaders Are Not Widely Adopted in Public Schools.” Here are a few of the opening lines from that piece:
“The Amazon Kindle and many other e-readers continue to enjoy unbridled success in the retail sphere, but have not caught on in educational institutions. The main reason is not the cost of the hardware or being locked into a particular ecosystem, but the device being capable of addressing disabled people’s needs. Amazon has made great strides in the last few years to make its e-readers accessible to the blind and dyslexic. Other companies have invested zero effort into their devices being more user friendly with ALL students.
“The big reason why many school boards in the USA and across the world have not adopted e-readers in the classroom is because whenever they try, advocacy groups representing disabled people shut them down. If a device cannot be used by all students or a strong majority of the population, they are considered not a viable investment of the school’s money and alienates specific students.”