[Colorado-talk] Reading Rights Coalition Denounces Random House

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Thu May 21 05:58:59 UTC 2009




<Chris Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, ext. 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

Reading Rights Coalition Denounces Random House

Random House Has Denied 15 Million
Print-Disabled Americans Access to its Books

New York City (May 20, 2009): The Reading Rights Coalition, 
representing more than 15 million print-disabled Americans, has 
denounced publishing giant Random House, which has turned off 
text-to-speech on all of its e-books available for Amazon's Kindle 2 
reading service.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "When Random House turned off the text-to-speech function on 
all of its e-books for the Kindle 2, it turned off access to this 
service for more than 15 million print-disabled Americans.  The blind 
and other print-disabled readers have the right to purchase e-books 
using this service with text-to-speech enabled.  Blocking 
text-to-speech prohibits access for print-disabled readers and is 
both reprehensible and discriminatory.  We urge President Obama, 
whose e-books are now being blocked from over 15 million Americans, 
to either demand that access be restored or to move to a publisher 
who does not engage in discrimination."

Dr. Cynthia Stuen, Senior Vice President of Policy and Evaluation for 
Lighthouse International, said: "Having the technology available to 
give people with impaired vision and other print disabilities equal 
and timely access to the printed word should be celebrated and 
encouraged in a civil and just society for all."

Andrew Imparato, President and Chief Executive Officer for the 
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), said: 
"Random House is callously disregarding the right of American 
consumers with disabilities to get access to the same content at the 
same price at the same time as everyone else.  Random House's 
decision to turn off the feature that makes this content accessible 
to millions of print-disabled Americans is a bad business decision 
with real human consequences and it must be corrected immediately."

Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind, 
said: "The recent action by Random House disabling text-to-speech on 
e-books is the latest and most egregious discriminatory action 
against the nation's 15 million print-disabled individuals.  Random 
House either doesn't care or doesn't understand the impact this will 
have on those who would otherwise have equal access to books and 
other printed materials in the same manner as our non-disabled 
peers.  We must work collaboratively to do everything possible to 
assure such access for this growing constituency."

James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), said: 
"KEI is disappointed that Random House is turning off text-to-speech 
on its Kindle 2 e-books. In a world where access to knowledge is 
central to everything, Random House certainly understands this action 
will isolate and marginalize many persons with reading disabilities."

K. Eric Larson, Executive Director and CEO of National Spinal Cord 
Injury Association, said: "All Americans have the right to equal 
access and many people living with paralysis use text-to-speech 
capabilities in order to gain that access.  Our members are also 
consumers and "turning off" text-to-speech means that some will not 
buy books they would otherwise purchase."

John R. Sheehan, Chairman of the Xavier Society for the Blind, said: 
"The Xavier Society for the Blind is committed to the notion that ALL 
books should be accessible to all people. When a book about Mother 
Teresa is among those whose text-to-speech functions have been 
disabled, we fear that we are seeing the beginning of a blanket 
cut-off of a function that should be open and available to all, 
especially (but not exclusively) to those with visual impairments or 
other problems that limit access to printed materials."

When Amazon released the Kindle 2 e-book reading service on February 
9, 2009, the company announced that the device would be able to read 
e-books aloud using text-to-speech technology.  Under pressure from 
the Authors Guild, Amazon has announced that it will give publishers 
the ability to disable the text-to-speech function on any or all of 
their e-books available for the Kindle 2 service.  Random House is 
the first publisher to turn off text-to-speech on all of its e-books 
and thus deny the rights of print-disabled people across America.

The Reading Rights coalition includes the blind, people with 
dyslexia, people with learning or processing issues, seniors losing 
vision, people with spinal cord injuries, people recovering from 
strokes, and many others for whom the addition of text-to-speech on 
the Kindle 2 promises for the first time easy, mainstream access to 
over 270,000 books.

For more information about the Reading Rights Coalition, please visit 
<http://www.readingrights.org/>www.readingrights.org.  To sign our 
petition, go to 
If you are an author who supports our cause, please send your contact 
information to <mailto:readingrights at nfb.org>readingrights at nfb.org.

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