As you know, I’m a reader. It’s rare to find me without a book in my hand, and you’ll find reading materials of one sort or another stashed almost everywhere I frequent in my life, from magazines in my cubicle at work to picture books in my kids’ diaper bag. My major downloads to our iPad are books, too–largely children’s books that piqued my interest or promised an extra level of interactivity for my kids. With all this reading going on, you might think I’d own a Kindle; indeed, friends and coworkers have encouraged me to get one more than once. However, the Kindle is not for me.
This is more than a simple aversion to e-books, although I admittedly do prefer the heft of a book in my hands and the feel of paper to watching words spin across a screen. My problem with the Kindle is that, at its heart, it is an inaccessible piece of technology.
The NFB has made this clear on its Web site; check out https://nfb.org/kindle-books for background, history and exhaustive research on the issue. Although the NFB and others have made it abundantly clear that the Kindle is not accessible for those with print disabilities, Amazon has declined to remedy the defects that make its product inaccessible. In other words, through its inaction, Amazon has demonstrated that it simply does not care.
To add insult to injury, Amazon’s trying to push the Kindle into our public schools and has enlisted the National PTA to help. Dr. Marc Mauer, the President of the NFB, explains why this is a problem in his well-written and superbly documented letter to the National PTA, which you can read here: https://nfb.org/images/nfb/documents/pdf/mm%20letter%20to%20national%20pta%203-11-13.pdf. I strongly recommend reading Dr. Mauer’s letter; it answers every question you may have about why the Kindle is inappropriate for classroom use and how promoting it in our schools is not only discriminatory towards students with print disabilities but is in fact against the law.
Please take a few moments and read Dr. Mauer’s letter, and review the history of the issue on the NFB’s Web site. If you, like me, object to needlessly inaccessible technology (one of the blessings of technology is its power to even the playing field–and there are other companies who offer accessibility as par for the course), you’ll find that the Kindle is not for you.