Kindle Denied Access at Universities

CNet reports that a couple of US universities have decided against using the Kindle as a replacement for textbooks, on accessibility grounds:

“The big disappointment was learning that the Kindle DX is not accessible to the blind,” Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin-Madison director of libraries, said in a statement.

Said the National Federation of the Blind:

[The] “menus of the device are not accessible to the blind…making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX.”


  1. Ok, I’m either going to point out the obvious here, or I’ve missed the point entirely… But isn’t your average paper textbook even more inaccessible to blind readers?

  2. I guess, Steve, that a paper text book could be read by an OCR machine and then spoken. Seems to me the problem with Kindle in this respect is that the data is locked inside the machine. Kind of stupid — well, incongruous, at least — because it’s digital data already and doesn’t need the OCR step.

  3. Thank-you. I wasn’t understanding the OCR machine part. That makes complete sense.

    I gather the complaint against the Kindle wasn’t the text-to-voice, but rather the inaccessible menu system – required to get to the text-to-voice feature.