“I’m so excited,” says Ella, “My husband bought me a Kindle.” Ella is an avid reader. She is 75 and has macular degeneration.
“How very nice of him,” says my innocent side, While my experienced side says, “You better hope your AMD isn’t the fast-acting kind, Ella, or you’ll be using that Kindle for a door stop.”
Forgive my strident tone, Ella. I just get passionate about reading. To me, the equation of NLS Talking Books + the Victor Reader Stream = Contentment. It’s a hammock and lemonade on a summer day listening to East of Eden.
That’s why Amazon and Barnes & Noble really annoy me. Amazon put a few miserly accessibility features into its Kindle 3 only to remove them from its new Kindle Fire. And Barnes & Noble’s mute step-son, the Nook, never had any screen reading features at all.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble are being taken to task in the court of public opinion. Arizona State University and The Free Library of Philadelphia are being taken to federal court. Plaintiffs claim that the federal Rehabilitation Act requires that agencies which receive federal funding must make their programs accessible to people with disabilities. ASU and the Free Library wanted only to improve academic achievement and literacy. But the means they chose to reach these noble ends, namely, the Kindle and the Nook, left the print disabled illiterate.
The book reading industry for the print disabled is flourishing. The National Library Service, Learning Ally, Bookshare, iBooks, and Blio supply talking books. The Victor Reader Stream, Book Sense and Intel Reader comprise the hardware. The technology is here.
Amazon is spearheading the new revolution in book publishing: ebooks for everyone. Way back when, the invention of the printing press made print books accessible and affordable to the masses. Literacy extended beyond class lines. The less fortunate got an equal shot.
So, Ella, who is 75 and has macular degeneration says to me, ”I’m so excited. For my summer reading, I have Gone With the Wind on my Kindle.”
And my idealistic side says, “You’ll love Tara in the summer,” while my realistic side says, “Frankly, my Dear, your Kindle doesn’t give a damn.”