About 4 months ago I reported on a lawsuit against the Philly Free Library over some recently purchased Nook Touch ereaders. The National Federation for the Blind sued the PFL because the Nook Touch is not accessible to the visually impaired.
I left that story hanging because I was waiting for the other show to drop. And today it did.
The Sacramento Public Library just settlement is probably going to be adopted as policy by most US libraries (with the goal of not being not sued), so it’s definitely going to make waves.which was brought by the Dept of Justice and the NFB. This library had also purchased Nooks in order to check them out to patrons, and they were also sued because the visually impaired could not use the ereaders. That
According to the DOJ press release, the SPL agrees to buy 18 accessible reading devices and add them to the collection so they can be checked alongside the Nooks. But that’s not the important part of the settlement, which is:
Under the settlement agreement, the library will not acquire any additional ereaders for patron use that exclude persons who are blind or others with disabilities who need accessible features such as text-to-speech functions or the ability to access menus through audio or tactile options.
They cannot buy any more Nooks. They also cannot buy any Kobo Touch, Sony Reader, or Pocketbook. This is truly going to put a crimp on everyone who wants to sell ereaders to libraries.
First and foremost, this settlement just torpedoed 3M’s ereader; it’s not accessible nor do they have any plans to make it accessible. And that ereader is the core of their sales pitch for the 3M Cloud Library. They boast about having an integrated ereader and now no library can legally buy it. And it gets worse for 3M because last I checked their apps have not been tested for accessibility either. Whoops.
But more importantly, this settlement is going to affect how libraries buy their gadgets. I asked around when this came up back in May and a couple librarians told me that they would probably have to buy at least some iPads and iPod Touch in order to meet the accessibility requirement. Thanks to the hard work of Apple’s engineers, those are the most accessible devices in their price range.
This settlement is also going to be especially hard on Barnes & Noble; it is likely going to affect all their institutional sales (both schools and libraries) and that was a sales channel they had been pushing rather strongly. It’s really not a coincidence that both lawsuits over accessible ereaders involve the Nook; B&N has really been working to get the institutional sales.
With this new settlement, the libraries are going to have to buy only accessible devices and that means they will likely go for iPads. It’s not the only option but it is the most obvious and IMO gives the best return for the cost. They might also get the iPad Mini, assuming it launches next month, but short of buying a several thousand dollar custom piece of equipment it’s Apple or nothing.
And yes, I am glossing over current Android tablets; they fall far short of the abilities of the stock iPad. The differences are stark.
In fact, not even the newer Kindles qualify; the K4 doesn’t have sound and the Kindle Touch doesn’t seem to have the vocal menu options which a visually impaired user would need. So it is the iPad or nothing.
P.S. Once you settle on the iPad, you now have to answer the question of which app will it run? There are a number of options that should work, and they can be tested before lending the iPad.
image by vlasta2