[Nfbc-info] Los Angeles Public Library Suspends Purchase of Adobe Digital Editions

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Wed Oct 7 02:44:27 UTC 2009



Chris Danielsen

National Federation of the Blind

Director of Public Relations

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

cdanielsen at nfb.org

Los Angeles Public Library
Suspends Purchase of Adobe Digital Editions

Reading Rights Coalition Commends Decisive Action

Los Angeles, California (October 6, 2009): The 
Reading Rights Coalition (RRC), which consists of 
thirty-one organizations dedicated to equal 
access to the printed word by people who are 
blind or who have other print disabilities, 
announced today that the Los Angeles Public 
Library system has agreed to suspend purchase of 
inaccessible e‑books using the Adobe Digital 
Editions (ADE) format.  The library was informed 
by the RRC that ADE e-books cannot be accessed by 
technologies used by the blind and others with 
print disabilities, including devices that read 
text aloud or convert it into Braille.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National 
Federation of the Blind, said: “The Reading 
Rights Coalition commends the Los Angeles Public 
Library for its swift and decisive action upon 
learning of our concerns and for its commitment 
to ensuring access to books by all of its 
patrons.  Companies like Adobe have adopted 
digital rights management schemes which do not 
allow the blind and other Americans with print 
disabilities to access their books, even though 
e-books are inherently accessible and should 
provide an unprecedented opportunity for 
print-disabled Americans to access the wealth of 
knowledge contained in books.  We will continue 
to inform libraries, universities, and other 
entities of the inaccessibility of these 
materials and urge them to comply with 
accessibility standards and applicable laws by 
requiring that any e-books they purchase be 
accessible to those with print disabilities.  We 
will no longer tolerate the gratuitous 
inaccessibility of e-books; we demand that 
Americans who cannot read print be treated like 
first-class citizens and be given access to all 
of the printed information to which other Americans have access.”

Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American 
Council of the Blind (ACB) and former ADA 
(Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliance 
Officer for the city of Los Angeles, said: "I am 
extremely pleased with the Los Angeles Public 
Library's decision, both as ACB President, and as 
someone who worked closely for fourteen years 
with library staff to ensure that its programs 
and services were fully accessible to persons who 
were blind or had other disabilities.  The 
example set by officials of the library will 
certainly be taken seriously and followed by 
major libraries throughout the nation."

In a letter to the Reading Rights Coalition, the 
Los Angeles Public Library stated that the books 
were accessible when purchased from one of its 
e-book providers, OverDrive, but that Adobe had 
altered its software to block text-to-speech 
technology and then forced OverDrive to implement 
the new software.  While the 773 ADE titles in 
the library’s collection will still be 
available to patrons, City Librarian Martín J. 
Gómez stated that no additional ADE books will 
be purchased until they are fully accessible to 
the blind and others with print 
disabilities.  The library also said that all of 
its other digital offerings are currently 
accessible to such readers.  The library’s 
action comports with a resolution passed in July 
by the American Library Association, which 
strongly recommended that libraries purchasing 
electronic resources should take steps to ensure 
that such resources comply with accessibility 
standards.  In the letter to the Reading Rights 
Coalition, the Los Angeles Public Library stated 
that it “will make every effort to apply 
pressure to our vendors by requiring verification 
of accessibility standards and making it clear 
that we will not purchase electronic resources 
that fail to meet accessibility standards.”


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