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


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?

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.

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  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    I think the ebook revolution is going to make things all the better for people with all kinds of disabilities. My Kindle will read to me. Having all books available electronically should make all kinds of other aids more effective.

  • SigFan

    I don’t know about the Nook but I suspect it has the same capability as my Kindle has which is an option of text-to-speech reading and you can use audiobooks through it as well. This is just one more example of the government poking their nose where it isn’t needed and doesn’t belong.

  • kevindf

    Have they never heard of audio books?

  • Bat One

    I will take foolishness like this (and the Obama DoJ) seriously when someone can explain what politically correct moron decided that drive-up ATMs need to have instructions in Braille.

    • gregb999

      The panels are made at the same factory and are often interchangeable with the walk up models. I know a couple of banks near me have the exact same ATMs both in the bank entrance and in the drive-thru. It’s only what surrounds them that is different.

      • tony_o2

        While you are correct that the ATMs themselves are usually the same parts, it isn’t the reason why drive-up ATMs have braille. Drive-up ATMs are also accessible by people not driving, therefore the ADA mandates that they have braille and audio instructions.

        I did work for a bank that had a non-compliant drive up ATM. It did not have audio capability, and it would have cost too much to replace it with a new one. To accommodate the blind customers, they installed a cheaper walk-up ATM in their lobby entrance and put a braille sticker on the drive-up that instructed people to use the other one.

        An ADA compliance officer still wrote them up for the non-compliant drive-up. He told them that it was still discriminating against the blind because it was forcing them to use a “segregated” ATM. They ended up taking out the drive-up ATM and now everyone has to go inside to use the ATM.

        • gregb999

          Ah, thanks for that info. I never knew most of it. Just always heard the part about parts being the same.

  • AV

    ADA was passed in 1990, by Bush I. DOJ has been around for a while too.

    How is this Obama’s fault?

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

      Bush the senior was wrong but perhaps well meaning for passing the ADA. The Obama administration is ridiculous for expanding it in this way.

      • AV

        How has Obama expanded it? Or did you just make that up?

        • leh

          I do think hat both AV and Eat This are HUA.

      • Eat This

        Because a republican did it, we will give them a pass because they meant well. When a democrat enforces it, he is expanding it. Maybe you should be happy about the ADA since you are obviously retrded.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Because they’re the ones applying the ADA law in such an absurd and stupid way, perhaps?

      • Eat This

        You are making it sound like they are twisting the law around to pick on e-readers, but AV is right: ADA has been around for many years and they are just applying the law as it it written.

        However, I’d almost be willing to bet that the DoJ and White House websites are not fully compliant.

      • AV

        Turns out that ADA wasn’t future-proof, there was also a ruling about websites too?

        But you are suggesting that Obama and the DoJ should apply the law (even more) selectively? Is that really what you want, partisan and inconsistent law enforcement?

        The correct response would be for the ADA to be fixed in some way, but that is out of the Democrats’ control, and do you think that Republicans are going to help out Obama, to fix it?

        • tony_o2

          I don’t see why the Republicans would be opposed to fixing the ADA laws, if it was a stand-alone bill that they would be voting on.

    • Bat One

      ADA should be third on President Romney’s list of legislation to repeal, right after he disposes of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.

  • Jay

    Idiots. I own several e-readers. Am I discriminating against the blind because I have devices they can’t use?

    O! What fools these mortals be!

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    Reality discriminates against liberals.

  • The Political Informer

    And Obama wonders why people dislike him.

    Maybe it’s because of this insanity.

  • jimmypop

    “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.”

    i wonder if this same lady was curious why she didnt get a gold medal in the mens 100m dash. some people just cant do some things. that doesnt mean we ban those things.

  • Simon

    There are audio and Braille books. Both selections are very limited. Braille books are very large, and not every blind person knows how to read Braille. As sad as that is, it’s reality. Audio books are great, but selection is sometimes quite limited. I have personally found books on Amazon that do not exist in audio format, Braille, or any of the websites for the blind.
    There are elevators and ramps for those who can’t use stairs. There is not a specialized ebook reader for the blind that can handle barns and noble or amazon kindle content. If I want to read an amazon book, I have to download it to the computer, hack the DRM and break it, then use a program to convert it to a format my e-reader recognizes. So I think the real question is, “Should blind people be limited in their access to books?”

    • tony_o2

      Just because there is not a specialized ebook reader for the blind, that can handle barns and noble or amazon kindle content, doesn’t mean that those who are not blind should be limited in their access to ebook readers.

      What the DOJ is basically saying is that because blind people cannot use these ebook readers, they should not be available to anyone. Unless you include everyone, you are discriminating against those who cannot use it.

      If the library was dumping it’s braille and audiobooks in order to provide these ebooks, then it would be a case of them actively excluding the blind from their services. This could be argued as discriminatory and against the law. But that’s not what is happening.

  • bcliff

    Blind skeet shooters waiting in the wings?

  • Jackass_Jimmy

    As I’ve said before… it doesn’t matter when you’re trying to appease the people whose votes you’re trying to buy. And that every moron’s vote counts the same.

    I say let’s give everyone one vote for each dollar they pay in taxes. My how things would change!! Let’s hear the libs howl over this one… :-D