Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Comments on Release of Large-screen Kindle

Urges Accessibility of New E-book Reader for Students

Baltimore, Maryland (May 6, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind Americans, commented today on the release by Amazon, Inc. of a new version of its Kindle electronic reading device. The new Kindle has a larger screen than previous versions and is being marketed by Amazon as a potential platform for the display of textbooks for college and graduate students.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are appalled that Amazon is releasing a new Kindle device ostensibly for the use of students that does not contain features that make it accessible to the blind. While this new device has the ability to read text aloud, its controls and user interface are not accessible to blind people; therefore, blind students will not have access to electronic textbooks available for the device. If the controls on the Kindle are made accessible to the blind, however, blind students will have equal access to textbooks at the same time as their sighted peers for the first time in history. We therefore urge Amazon to introduce a user interface for the Kindle that is accessible to the blind as soon as possible. Until such an accessible interface is introduced by Amazon, no college or university should deploy this device for use by its students, since doing so will place blind students at an unfair disadvantage compared to their sighted peers and will violate state and federal laws requiring equal access to textbooks and course materials for students with disabilities.”