DOJ reaches settlement at Sacramento library regarding e-readers

The U.S. Department of Justice announced August 29 a settlement with the Sacramento Public Library Authority to provide accessible e-readers.

In response to a complaint filed by the National Federation of the Blind, the DOJ challenged the library’s use of Barnes & Nobles’ NOOK electronic readers as part of a program where it lends the e-readers preloaded with e-books.

The DOJ objected to the NOOK’s lack of text-to-speech functions and ability to access the touch screens through a display in Braille, which makes them inaccessible to the blind or people with other visual or reading disabilities.

The settlement requires the library to provide accessible e-readers and train its staff on ADA compliance.

“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 Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

The NFB viewed the settlement favorably, calling the e-readers an essential tool for helping people with visual and reading disabilities integrate in regular, daily life.

“E-books represent an opportunity for the blind to have access to the same books at the same time as our sighted friends, family, and colleagues, but sadly most e-book vendors have not designed their technology so that it can be used by the blind, despite the fact that it is not difficult or costly to do so,” NFB President Dr. Marc Maurer said in a news release.