‘The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind are suing Arizona State University for its use of the Amazon Kindle to distribute electronic textbooks to students, saying the device cannot be used by blind students.’ Chronicle of Higher Education (July 2)

The two articles below raise some very interesting questions about new technologies and their implications for those with physical disabilities (the comments to the journal articles are particularly vigorous).

Key questions raised:

  1. What is ‘reasonable’ accommodation for those with disabilities?
  2. Who should provide this accommodation: the equipment manufacturer (Kindle), the publisher (Amazon), or the university – or all three? To what extent should people with disabilities make the accommodation themselves?
  3. Should the Kindle be required for any student? What are its advantages for study, for the university administration, and for publishers? What are its disadvantages?
  4. What will the consequences be for use of technology in education if the litigants win?
  5. Is litigation the only – or the best – resort the blind have on this issue?
  6. Are those advocating for e-learning doing enough to accommodate people with disabilities?

If anyone is looking for some good exam questions, please feel free to use them! I’m sure I don’t have adequate answers for these questions (except perhaps no. 3), but I would sure like to hear your views on this. And I am sure there are other questions that can be raised around this issue.

Beja, M. (2009) Advocates for the Blind Sue Arizona State University Over Kindle Use Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus, July 2

Lederman, D. (2009) Challenge to the Kindle Inside Higher Education, July 6


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