Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Opposition to Authors Guild on Kindle 2 text to speech

Manon Ress notes that there is growing opposition to the Authors' Guild stance which caused Amazon to shut off the text to speech feature of its Kindle 2 ebook reader.
" Reading disabled persons affected by the Authors’ Guild request to remove the text to speech function on Kindle 2 include include school children, the elderly, professionals, university students, returning veterans, and yes, your neighbors, family members and friends.

The Reading Rights coalition is growing and includes now 22 members:
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Council of the Blind
American Foundation for the Blind
Arc of the United States and United Cerebral Palsy
Association of Blind Citizens
AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability)
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Burton Blatt Institute
DAISY Consortium
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
IDEAL Group, Inc.
International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI)
International Dyslexia Association
International Dyslexia Association – New York Branch Learning Disabilities
Jewish Guild for the Blind
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
Learning Disabilities Association of America
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Disability Rights Network
National Federation of the Blind
NISH (formerly National Institute for the Severely Handicapped)
National Spinal Cord Injury Association

Equal and not separate Reading Rights

What we believe:

“As technology advances and more books move from hard-copy print to electronic formats, people with print disabilities deserve the opportunity to enjoy access to books on an equal basis with those who can read print.”

People with print disabilities cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability.

Simply put, people with reading disabilities want to buy books. They are fighting to have equal access to technology and information.

Now that the Kindle 2 offers text-to-speech, some reading disabled persons could actually purchase and enjoy books at the same time as anybody else.

However, it looks as if the Authors Guild does not support equal access for those willing to pay equal prices. For the Guild, to read books, reading disabled persons must either be “registred” or pay more to read with text-to-speech.

Here is an Open Letter to Authors by the Reading Rights Coalition.

And here is a powerful statement from Carrie Russel, Director Program on Public Access to Information, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy

“It is hard to know what is worse — Amazon cowtowing to the Authors Guild’s request to remove the text to speech function or the Authors Guild seeking to squeeze every penny they can from the visually impaired who are already paying for the Kindle books. Amazon did not have to cave - there was no license they had agreed to with the Authors Guild to remove the speech function that would have expanded rights to private reading. Shame on the Authors Guild for being greedy and downright mean to the visually impaired.”

Please support us, people with reading disabilities and people who care about access to books for all, by joining an informational picket in front of the Authors Guild’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan on April 7, 2009 at 12:00 p.m."

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