[nfb-talk] Los Angeles Public Library Suspends Purchase of Adobe Digital Editions

John G. Heim jheim at math.wisc.edu
Wed Oct 7 17:15:55 UTC 2009

Well, this is good news. So often we hear of places like the LA Library 
system forging ahead in spite of accessibility problems. The justification 
often is something like, "We don't have many blind patrons who are using 
these e-books." Well, no, that that may be because they're inaccessible. 
Yeah, and they're never going to be accessible as long as you keep buying 
the inaccessible products.

It's very similar to the resistance I found in my previous job at the 
University of Wisconsin. I'd point out that all the software my department 
at the University was buying was inaccessible and they'd say, "Well, you're 
our only blind employee." Yeah but how can there ever be more blind 
employees if the software is inaccessible. Of course, now that department 
has zero blind employees because I moved to a different department.

So the LA County Library system should be applauded for thinking so far 
ahead.  That kind of clarity of purpose is far too rare in our society.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Freeh,Jessica (by way of David Andrews <dandrews at visi.com>)" 
<JFreeh at nfb.org>
To: <david.andrews at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 9:44 PM
Subject: [nfb-talk] Los Angeles Public Library Suspends Purchase of Adobe 
Digital Editions



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: �?oThe 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�?Ts 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�?Ts
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 �?owill 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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