Feeds

back to article E-reader barons file FCC plea to opt out of disabled-friendly regs

E-reader manufacturers have petitioned to exempt themselves from accessibility regulations applied to communication services - and the FCC wants to know what you think about that. The claim comes from Amazon, Kobo, and Sony, who all claim that browsing or e-mail capability is just a distraction as their devices exist purely to …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge

no LCD screen, no camera,

Yes anything not capable of color video should be exempt.

Shouldn't have any other restriction though on software.

2
0
Silver badge

Not everything can do everything

The downside of forcing an e-reader to do everything is that it will push up the cost for little benefit. The whole point of a device with E-Ink is to make it low power, given that it doesn't have to be doing much when the static page is displayed. If you want audio then get a device designed to do audio - why waste money on something with a screen if you don't need one. Similarly, if you can't manage to handle a book (I assume all e-readers allow left- and right-swipes to turn pages), then there are devices which are much better suited to having the necessary peripherals added to allow easier use.

4
1

Re: Not everything can do everything

Be interesting to hear what they would be forced to provide. The Kindle already comes with a (some what dull) audio reader and i assume so do the others.

0
0
Silver badge
Joke

Given what our (USA) government wants to to...

They might just make paper back books "accessible" in some way. Who knows, they might require that the books have braille for the entire book.

Be careful for what you ask for, you might just get it!

2
2
Silver badge

Re: Given what our (USA) government wants to to...

You might have meant it as a joke, but there for e-books, it is a serious question.

For printed books there are clear compatibility issues with trying to combine braille and text in the same artifact. For an electronic copy of a book not so much. It's all just electrons moving around to process other electrons. I don't own an ebook myself, but others here have posted that they include rudimentary text vocalization devices. Given that ACS is the law of the land, and given that there are far more titles available in ebooks than there are in braille (which I am told is dying anyway with advances in technology), what is the cost-benefit analysis of making sure ebooks are accessible to the blind? In fact, as I read the first paragraph I was thinking to myself, even if it isn't a communications service, does that invalidate the heart of the complaint or merely place a technical obstacle in its path? If the suit is dismissed under ACS, could it be refiled the next day by simply replacing ACS with ADA?

I'm not really in favor of ACS/ADA-type legislation. But if you're damn fool enough to make it the law of the land, every damn fool should have to live with it. Even the ones who max out their political donations every election cycle.

1
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

My Kindle Paperwhite has text to speak, so I assumed they all had this function.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

I'm sorry you're disabled. But that doesn't give you the right to tell me what kind of device I can buy. Lots of devices don't have the features I need, so I don't buy them. But I don't tell other people they can't have one.

18
0
Gold badge
Thumb Up

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

Shadow Systems,

There are plenty of devices out there that can do the job of text to speech from ebooks, as you say. And do it better. So why saddle the ereader manufacturers with having to do this? If it really did cost an extra $20 per device, that's hundreds of millions wasted on shoehorning extra tech in to a device that's still not going to be very suitable. Unless you want to argue they should be forced to add keyboards or Braille input as well...

Accessibility needs to be a trade-off. A compromise has to be made somewhere between the extra costs of accessibility on society, the rights of people to equal treatment and people's desire to keep some of their own money for themselves and not get taxed to buggery. Most changes impose costs.

Personally, I'd suggest that it would be better for everyone concerned to just tax all ereader sales at $20 and use that cash to buy every blind person in the US a more suitable device. Which I don't think would be a particularly good idea either. But probably better than forcing accessibility on an unsuitable device. An iPod touch or iPhone would be far better. I don't know the state of Android accessibility, but I do know that Apple have made some reasonable efforts, and are working on improvements.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

The basic $69 Kindle would not exist. It's an e-ink device with no sound, it uses almost zero power while you are reading as only page turns require power. If you add text to speech it's going to be using power all the time.

The more full featured units like the Kindle Keyboard 3G includes sound. Can play audio books, and has Text to Speech included. It costs $159. I think they had a wifi version too for about $120 but I don't see it right now.

So what you are saying is 290 million Americans can't buy a $69 kindle because it will not meet the needs of 10 million Americans, even though there is a model(s) available that will do what you want. It costs more, because it can do more. And it's a tiny fraction of the price of that Jaws program you talked about ( $895 for the standard version).

I'd say it's you that should STFU.

12
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

How useful is Vonage to a deaf person (Vonage connects to the internet yet is a strictly audio device)?

Or Google Maps to a blind person?

By your logic, both of these should be accessible to the disabled. But actually, in terms of practicality, neither one would be used by certain disabled because they require functions they essentially lack. For the deaf, TDD has been superseded in most cases by textual communications (SMS or Internet chat) they can read. And last I checked, blind people aren't legally able to drive so can't really employ a map, let alone a self-updating one.

So here, what difference is there between an ebook and a paperback? A blind person would get the paper book in Braille, and they make specialized Refreshible Braille Displays that can be used to present ebooks to a blind person, with contextually-appropriate controls better suited to such a scenario (say, scroll by line rather than turn by page).

4
0

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

You sound bitter. Especially in your last statement.

Probably doesn't sound that way when you process it through a screen reader.

0
0
Trollface

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

Would it be crass of me to reply to this assuming the OP will be using a screen reader, and putting in stuff like "arglibliblbiblbiblbiblbiblbiblbiblbiagagagagagagagagahahahhoobababababababababababababababababstikikikikikikiki" and big numbers like $381,382,648,628,959,628,510,831.99 just to get his goat?

I guess I'd better not.

2
5
Megaphone

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

a CAT5 patch cable connects to the Internet - should it have a text reader too? How about an Ethernet Card?

Not every device has to be designed to that everyone can use it. Designing a device for a SUBSET of the population, limiting its features so that it can be better at one thing instead of something else, is a viable business. Why force me to pay for features that I don't want or need, just because you might want or need them, on a device that you probably wouldn't even purchase? Just because something CAN do something, doesn't mean that it SHOULD do something.

6
1
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

There is absolutely *NO* legitimate reason to NOT include Accessability in anything you design, build, offer, or sell.

So Ford etc. should fit all their cars with TTS instruments, and braille labels for the knobs? Don't be daft.

Insisting that everything which might be used for communication must therefore comply with every accessibility rule relating to communications devices is a great way to get all that incidental communications functionality dropped. So all the non-disabled people have to suffer just so you might not? Nice.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

"If it can connect to the internet in any way, then it's a Communications Device, and needs to be Accessable.<br>Full Stop.<br>End of story.<p>

If it can't connect to the internet, it *still* needs to be Accessable, otherwise you are *specificly* telling the +10Million American's & +300Million Global Blind/Visually Impaired people to go fuck themselves.<br>"

Rubbish! Not every *thing* needs to be made accessible.

Society is not being disriminatory. Society helps as much as it can and has compassion for those with disability issues.

It just does not make sense to waste time and money on making every *thing* suitable for disabled users when they can/are already catered for.

This is just common sense so your childish rant, this one, "There's 300Million of us whom will either Thank You Profusely & reward you with our money, or (if you don't) consider you an absolute scum sucking bunghole that deserves 300Million ass kickings.<br>" can go back to where it came from. I would suggest and brown and smelly place where the sun dont shine.

1
0

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

The Victor Reader Stream lists at £255. I don't know how much of that would need to be added to, for example, my nook ereader.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

Without necessarily disagreeing with your overall point, I feel that I should mention that it is possible to get from place to place without driving, using these things on the ends of our body. We call them 'legs'. And when using these 'legs', one might find a map useful to find your way around, especially if you're blind, when having a device that can tell where you are and which direction to go using voice directions would be fantasically useful.

Whether it is appropriate to force ebook readers to do this is another question, I just felt it important to call you on the bullshit that google maps is useless to the blind.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

"How useful is Vonage to a deaf person (Vonage connects to the internet yet is a strictly audio device)?"

About as much use as El Reg's podcasts are to a deaf person, wouldn't you say?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

At least the podcasts are recorded and can be transcribed. It's hard to transcribe something impromptu like a telephone conversation and current speech recognition technology tends to miss too often in realtime situations.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

The problem is that legs, while very adaptable, tend to work very poorly without the assistance of EYES. They don't have the capability to self-correct in the event of obstacles (thus why most mobile robots are wheeled or treaded). That's why the blind tend to enlist guide animals when forced to walk beyond their usual surroundings. For the blind, a navigation device would have to deviate from the norm in a couple significant ways:

1. Visual maps are useless since the blind can't read maps. So a screen is unlikely (a RBD, maybe, but not a screen).

2. It would have to be designed with nonvisual input in mind, meaning either a braille keyboard or GOOD voice recognition.

These two are so deviant from your average navigator that it would be best performed with a specialist device, and that's the crux of the argument. Is the application better done as part of a general-purpose device or with a specialist device. Since reading in the normal sense requires the use of eyes, blind reading deviates too much from the norm, making the argument favor the latter.

0
0
Silver badge

Not just ebooks

On the news today, the Canadian Aviation authorities decided that an allergy to dogs is a disability and the airlines must accommodate it by banning dogs from the flight.

After a women had an allergic reaction on a flight which had a guide dog on a seat near her.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Not just ebooks

Since my wife would be in exactly that position, and would have to get off any flight where such an animal was present, I have to applaud the Canadian CAA. Animals can safely travel in the hold, and there is no need for a guide dog to be present inside a long thin tin can where you can't get lost, and where there are humans present whose main job is to help passengers.

2
2
Silver badge

Re: Not just ebooks

I've checked the article. Apparently, an exception will still exist for certified guide dogs. Understandable, because they can't prefer one disability (animal hair allergy) over another (blindness). It would just mean it would be up to the airline to be sure that such a clash is resolved by separating them in the cabin.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Not just ebooks

> can't prefer one disability (animal hair allergy) over another (blindness).

Why not? In daily life the allergy is probably less serious, and manageable with medication. On an aeroplane blindness is a relatively minor inconvenience, but an unexpected allergic reaction could be fatal. It will all depend on the circumstances.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Not just ebooks

"On an aeroplane blindness is a relatively minor inconvenience"...

Not if it's the pilot it's not.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Not just ebooks

Don't underestimate blindness, especially in a confined setting like an airliner cabin. One misplaced item can cause the blind person to trip, and since the blind have limited situational awareness, it's easy for them to crash into something hard like an armrest. Suddenly you have a different potentially life-threatening situation: blunt-force trauma to the head with risk of skull fracture (picture falling at speed and banging your forehead against the edge of a very hard armrest).

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: Not just ebooks

Not if it's the pilot it's not.

Meh, they have autoland.

0
0
Unhappy

Whining Bastards

They succeeded in destroying the paperback book and bookstores. Now they have been hosted on their own petard to these companies don't offer more than what your willing to deliver.

0
3

You know as a person with disabilities how come no one ever asks me? I only disclose my disability if it affects me from doing some thing other than that I don;t let it define me. I have issues with colors and light sensitivity. That's my issues. I look at like this if you have a problem with me that;s your problem don't try and make it mine. My problems are mine and I'm not trying to make it pother folks problems.

1
0

Everything should be as accessible as possible.

I bought an ereader because my deteriorating eyesight prevented me from reading paper books, my ereader makes it possible to boost the text size of almost any epublication I can get hold of. To me ereaders are a primary aid to my disability. Companies that try to wriggle out of responsibilities and legal obligations just to penny pinch disgust me and deserve the full force of the law coming down on their fat, profitable arses.

0
3
Silver badge

Re: Everything should be as accessible as possible.

This is a poor argument. You have said that your ereader assists you by allowing larger text - it is, therefore, doing what it is designed to do. What more do you want? If you want something that does text-to-speech, then an ereader is not the correct tool - you need something else. In essence, a text-to-speech device for the visually impaired would be wholly different from an ereader - no screen, for instance.

You seem to arguing that every ereader should have a speaker and software that most people will never use, at the expense of the people that will never use it. This is wrong. There is absolutely no reason that a simple device should be encumbered with stuff that the majority will never use merely because it makes the life of a small minority easier, and when reasonably-priced alternatives exist. What next - every phone has to come with giant buttons so that people with visual impairment or lack of mobility in their fingers can buy the same as everyone else?

There is a huge difference between ensuring that ramps are available for people with mobility problems, and special surfaces exist for visually impaired to help them identify crossings etc (though they cause problems for people with mobility problems). It is something entirely different to demand that the manufacturers of goods to to fit the needs of all disabled people.

Out of interest, have you read Harlan Ellison's "Harrison Bergeron"?

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Everything should be as accessible as possible.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Harrison Burgeron written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. rather than Harlan Ellison?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Everything should be as accessible as possible.

No, they would just remove all communications from cheap ereaders, so disabled people would not benefit at all and everyone else would be penalised.

Should Ballet dancers wear lead weights, ear plugs and distorting dark glasses?

Yes, general purpose computing devices (tablets, ereaders with colour video screens) should have audio accessibility. But not the electronic paper.

0
0
Gold badge
Coat

Re: Everything should be as accessible as possible.

Should Ballet dancers wear lead weights, ear plugs and distorting dark glasses?

Yes! It would make them far more accessible. At the moment, they keep out-running me...

3
0

Rubbish-sighted person comment

Hope these people get told where to shove it. I love my Kobo, precisely because I have retinopathy so struggle with small text. Easy to zoom the text size right up on a wide array of books, on a cheap device. It opens a whole world of books up to me, that otherwise I couldn't easily read without a large print edition. Forcing the price up means devices get withdrawn means everyone loses apart from a moral pyrrhic victory for the registered disabled.

2
0

If there was a market

If there is a market for something it will probably exist. Given that Ebooks are just text files with a lot of DRM it is up to the likes of Amazon to produce a device that renders the same content via audio or Braille, can't imagine e-Braille would be that hard to achieve.

If they did that then there would be no need to make their device good for everyone.

0
0

Here we go

So this is already a thing that kinda exists http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braille_e-book - build it please, Amazon, and they will come

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Here we go

But that isn't accessible to people without fingers so wouldn't be allowed

0
0
Silver badge

I'd agree - if:

No LCD, no Colo(u)r E-ink, no camera, no network connection and NO SPEAKERS

The moment it has speakers or a headphone socket it can bloody well have TTS too. That's not difficult.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.