Obama’s Department Of Justice: E-Book Readers Discriminate Against Blind People

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Obama’s Department of Justice just won a legal settlement against a California library which was participating in a pilot program to allow patrons to check out e-book readers.  What was the DoJ’s beef?  The e-book readers weren’t accessible by the blind.

But, don’t blind people kind of have a problem with books in general?

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Justice Department says it has reached a settlement with the Sacramento (California) Public Library over a trial program that lets patrons borrow Barnes and Noble NOOK e-book readers.

DOJ and the National Federation of the Blind objected to the program on grounds that blind people could not use the NOOK e-readers for technological reasons.

The Justice Department said the settlement is aimed at stopping discrimination: “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 in a news release.

A DOJ official told CNSNews.com it interviewed a woman who could not participate in the library’s e-reader program due to her disability and concluded that the program had violated the ADA.

Amy Calhoun, an Electronic Resources Librarian at the Sacramento Public Library who helped launch the ebook reader project, said she was unaware of any objections from a blind person regarding the program. “I have not heard of a specific complaint directly from a patron,” she told CNSNews.com. “But I do know that patrons who are part of the statewide Braille and talking-book program do get in touch with us for audio books.”

Your tax dollars, hard at work.

All due respect to the blind, but why should their disability limit access to e-book readers for those who aren’t blind?  Per the article, this library has both Braille and audio books available for the blind.  It’s not like anybody is trying to discriminate against the blind.

What’s next?  Should we make stairs illegal because people in wheelchairs can’t use them?  Should we make cars illegal because blind people can’t drive them?

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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