[Nfbnet-members-list] URGENT: WE NEED LETTERS TO MAKE E-READERS ACCESSIBLE BY LABOR DAY
pinkhawaii at gmail.com
Sat Aug 31 07:21:06 UTC 2013
LOVELY VAL. IT IS TOO MUCH TO READ. SEND ME A FORMLETTER AND I SIGN.
ALOHA WITH LOVE FROM HAWAII.
Dr. Heinz-Guenther Pink
Advocate and program evaluator for the blind, deaf, elders and handicapped.
Member: NFB Communication Council and ATRC Advisory Council of the State,
former Member of Senator Chun Oakland's Deaf-Blind Task Force. I AM FOR
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING!
Co-founder: College of Commerce 1962, Founder: Computer College of Hawaii
since 1963. ONLY CONTACT ME AT: pinkhawaii at gmail.com or
in Skype and Google video talk also just: pinkhawaii at gmail.com
OR BY MAIL: 410 Magellan Ave. STE.1002, Honolulu, HI. 96813
On Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 2:41 PM, Yingling, Valerie <Vyingling at nfb.org>wrote:
> We understand that some members may have had difficulty opening the
> previously attached documents. If so, please reference the documents’
> text, per the link included below, the attached Word documents, and the
> embedded text after the message of this e-mail.
> This letter was originally sent to the legislative directors but we are
> circulating it to the entire membership for maximum outreach:
> We need your help! The Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers has submitted
> a Petition for Waiver to the FCC asking that e-readers be exempt from the
> Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)
> accessibility requirements. Please view the petition at
> http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7022314526. NFB has written an
> opposition to the request, and we are asking other groups to sign on. The
> text of this opposition is included, below and attached. But the FCC needs
> to hear from our members – blind people who want access to e-readers – and
> the more people they hear from, the better. We are asking all Legislative
> Directors to find people in their respective affiliates to edit the
> skeleton letter (included below and attached) and return it to us. The
> letter is already formatted and has an outline, but it is up to each person
> to make it personal and select which talking points they want to use.
> Finished letters should be sent to Valerie Yingling at vyingling at nfb.orgby
> *8pm on Monday, September 2*. Valerie will proofread each document to
> make sure there are no typos and the customized points are still on
> message, and then we will submit the letters all at once when they are due
> on September 3rd. We are short on time but I trust that this issue is
> pressing to our membership and we will get a good amount of letters.
> For some background: The CVAA requires that all mobile devices with
> advanced communications services (ACS) be accessible to blind people, but
> the law allows manufacturers to request a waiver for equipment that is not
> intended for ACS. The Coalition (comprised of Amazon, Sony and Kobo)
> claims that the primary purpose of e-readers is reading, and that the ACS
> found in e-readers is so incidental and ancillary that it is not an
> intended purpose of the device. We know this is not true – e-readers are
> outfitted with built-in web browsers and designed for social media. The
> Coalition also claims that to make e-readers accessible would require a
> fundamental overhaul that would render e-readers obsolete, harm the public
> interest, and not provide substantial benefit to blind people. We know
> that this offensive claim is also not true. It is critical that the FCC
> hear from all of us – it is the only thing that can defeat the petition.
> Regulation is legislation’s sister, so I know we can count on all of you to
> get a good amount of feedback to the FCC. If you have any questions, don’t
> hesitate to email me or Valerie. Looking forward to seeing everyone’s
> Lauren McLarney
> *Government Affairs Specialist
> NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
> 200 East Wells St.
> Baltimore, MD 21230
> (410) 659 9314 ext. 2207
> lmclarney at nfb.org
> *Opposition to Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers’ Petition*
> *Before the
> FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
> Washington, D.C. 20554
> In the Matter of Implementation of Sections 716 and 717 of the
> Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the Twenty-First Century
> Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 Opposition
> to Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers’ Petition for Waiver of Sections 716
> and 717 of the Communications Act and Part 14 of the Commission’s Rules
> Requiring Access to Advanced Communications Services (ACS) and Equipment by
> People with Disabilities
> To: Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
> *Submitted by:
> *NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
> September 3, 2013
> *TABLE OF CONTENTS
> II. E-READERS DO NOT MEET THE CRITERIA FOR A WAIVER………………………….2
> A. E-readers employ ACS as a co-primary purpose. …………………………………….3
> B. ACS features are marketed as desirable uses of an
> III. THE WAIVER PETITION IS
> IV. GRANTING THE WAIVER WOULD HARM THE PUBLIC.................…………………...7
> V. CONCLUSION………………………………………………………………………………9
> I. INTRODUCTION
> On May 16, 2013, the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (“the Coalition”)
> submitted a Petition for Waiver (“the Petition”) requesting an exemption
> for e-readers from accessibility requirements under the Twenty-First
> Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The
> National Federation of the Blind [and whoever else signs on] objects to
> this request, and strongly urges the Commission to reject the Petition.
> The Coalition argues that it is entitled to a waiver because CVAA
> accessibility requirements are intended to apply to equipment used for
> advanced communication services (ACS) and e-readers are in a distinct class
> of equipment that is only designed, marketed, and used for the primary
> purpose of reading. The Coalition also claims that e-readers have limited
> and rudimentary ACS capability, and to meet the ACS accessibility
> requirements would require a “fundamental altering” of the devices that
> would harm public interest and fail to benefit individuals with
> disabilities.[i] The Coalition proposes that the waiver apply only to
> devices that: (1) have no LCD screen; (2) have no camera; (3) are not
> offered or shipped to consumers with built-in ACS client applications; and
> (4) are marketed to consumers as reading devices and promotional material
> does not advertise the capability to access ACS.[ii]
> Although we recognize that the CVAA was not intended to cover every
> wireless device that may have incidental ACS, the Petition should be
> rejected because the Coalition has failed to demonstrate that e-readers
> meet the three criteria used by the Commission when deciding to grant a
> waiver.[iii] First, e-readers are capable of accessing ACS and have many
> ACS features that are central to the primary use of the devices. In fact,
> one cannot read[iv] any content on the e-reader without using the ACS
> features. Without access to an Internet browser, a user cannot purchase a
> book from the respective manufacturer’s store. ACS functionality directly
> affects the functionality of the non-ACS feature of reading. Accordingly,
> ACS is the co-primary purpose of an e-reader’s design and use. Second, the
> Coalition falsely claims that e-readers are not marketed for their ACS
> functions because customers are not looking for those features in an
> e-reader. The Coalition cites selective quotes from consumers and review
> articles but fails to mention that the Coalition members tout the ACS
> features of their e-readers on all of the web pages devoted to those
> devices and in their advertising materials.
> The Coalition also fails to limit its waiver request temporally based on
> the product lifecycle. Essentially, the Petition requests a blanket,
> indefinite waiver for all e-readers, contrary to the purpose of the CVAA
> and the Commission’s express requirements for a class waiver petition.[v]
> The Petition fails to meaningfully define the class of products for which
> it seeks a waiver. These omissions invalidate the entire request.
> In addition to not meeting the Commission’s criteria for a waiver, the
> Coalition puts forth an almost farcical argument that requiring e-readers
> to comply with CVAA accessibility requirements would harm the public and
> not benefit individuals with disabilities. Since the emergence of
> e-readers, blind people have been lobbying manufacturers to make the
> devices accessible, which would allow blind people access to books and
> provide the Coalition with more customers. Furthermore, the Coalition is
> already under intense scrutiny from the Department of Justice to make
> e-readers accessible because of the proliferation of their use in the
> classroom. [vi] At its passage, the CVAA complemented the existing legal
> protections for persons with disabilities under the Americans with
> Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, applying
> long-standing policies of inclusion to twenty-first century technology. To
> grant a waiver from the CVAA requirements would undermine these other
> statutes and buck national and international trends toward increasing
> access to books for the blind. Furthermore, granting a waiver for
> e-readers would create a disability tax that places added burdens on
> disabled users, requiring them to purchase more sophisticated and expensive
> electronic devices that are accessible if they wish to read on a portable
> electronic device, while non-disabled people have the option to purchase
> e-readers at a very low cost.
> * II. E-READERS DO NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A WAIVER.
> *The Commission is only authorized to waive the requirements of Section
> 716 for any class of equipment that (A) is capable of accessing an advanced
> communications service; and
> (B) is designed primarily for purposes other than using advanced
> communications services. If the ACS functions are a co-primary purpose of
> the device or if the equipment is marketed for the ACS features and
> functions, the Commission may not grant a waiver.[vii] Given the
> Commission’s waiver analysis, the Coalition’s petition fails to meet any of
> the criteria needed for a waiver.
> A. * E-readers employ ACS as a co-primary purpose.
> *The Commission’s waiver inquiry must consider whether the equipment is
> capable of accessing ACS. By the Coalition’s own admission, e-readers can
> access ACS and have multiple ACS functions. Because “in instances where
> equipment and services may have multiple primary or co-primary purposes,
> [that include ACS] waivers may not be warranted,”[viii] the Commission
> must determine whether the equipment in question is designed primarily for
> a purpose other than accessing ACS. The Coalition argues that differences
> in ACS functions between e-readers and tablets illustrates that ACS is not
> integral to the use and functionality of e-readers. To the contrary, ACS is
> a critical e-reader function that facilitates the primary use of the
> devicereadingthereby making ACS functionality a co-primary purpose.[ix]
> As an initial matter, e-readers are only useful if the user can access
> books. On all of the devices covered by the Petition, users access books
> by accessing the Internet through the devices’ browsers. Under § 718 of
> the CVAA, browsers themselves must be accessible by October 2013. The
> Commission has made clear that browsers are “generally subject to the
> requirements of § 716.”[x]
> In the Petition, the Coalition first states that “…these devices are not
> designed with ACS as an intended feature,” but then contradicts itself by
> stating that built-in browsers are “designed to facilitate simple browsing
> activities directly related to reading.”[xi] If reading is the primary
> purpose of the device, and the ACS features facilitate activities directly
> related to reading, then the Commission must conclude that the features are
> not only an “intended” use of the devices, but that they are the intended
> co-primary purpose. Every type of ACS found on e-readers, including Wi-Fi
> access, web browsing/built-in browsing, and social media is intended to
> enhance the user’s experience with the device.
> The Coalition does not dispute that the browsers on its devices are
> inaccessible – rather, the Coalition claims that the browsers are so
> incidental to the purpose of an e-reader that the use of the browser does
> not defeat its Petition. This is simply inaccurate. For example, to
> purchase books or borrow from the public library, the Sony PRST2HBC, the
> Kobo Glo, and the Kindle Paperwhite use Wi-Fi accessed through a browser.
> In addition, the Kindle Paperwhite also has 3G support so that the consumer
> can lend books to others, play games, and use apps -- all through the
> browser. A Kindle Paperwhite user might utilize the built-in web browser
> or 3G network to quickly purchase a book or sync up to a previous
> purchase. That user then connects over social media with friends, and
> ultimately decides to loan the book to another Kindle user or share a
> favorite passage with a friend. All of these models have social media
> features to allow users to send messages and other information, which are
> clearly ACS functions. Kobo Glo’s online marketing, for example,
> prominently announces: “Share to your Facebook Timeline. Get social with
> your reading by connecting your Kobo account to your Facebook Timeline, so
> it’s easy to share your favorite passages with your friends and find out
> what they’re reading. It’s the latest in digital book clubs.”[xii] Not
> only do all of these features enhance the experience of reading, they are
> fundamental to the user’s ability to read in the first place. The ability
> to buy books with the touch of a button and share information with friends
> instantaneously is the fundamental difference between reading a print book
> and reading an electronic book.
> Because e-readers clearly have access to ACS, the Coalition attempts to
> deemphasize the role of ACS by mischaracterizing it as “theoretical,”
> “ancillary,” or “rudimentary.” Kobo’s boasting of the ease with which a
> user can post to Facebook or Amazon’s crowing over the speed at which a
> Kindle user can share and receive data over the 3G network could hardly be
> called “rudimentary,” and these features are certainly not theoretical.
> Built-in web browsers enhance the experience of buying books and accessing
> book-related content, and since the Coalition is claiming that the primary
> purpose of e-readers is reading the very books the manufacturers are
> encouraging users to purchase, read, discuss, and share, this feature is
> not “ancillary.” In addition, the Coalition falsely claims that
> “[e]-readers do not contain apps for ACS,” even though the Kindle
> Paperwhite supports such applications.
> Moreover, the development of e-reader ACS functionality over the last
> several years undermines the Coalition’s claim that ACS functions are
> incidental to e-reader use. The Coalition claims that the “slow refresh
> rates on e-readers further discourages interaction” and that these
> limitations “would not encourage future use for ACS.” Yet, over the last
> several years, the Coalition members have increased the ACS capabilities in
> their e-readers. The 2010 Kindle DX Graphite, the 2010 Kobo Wi-Fi, and the
> 2010 Sony PRS-350 lack some features that their 2012 counterparts have:
> built-in web browsers, supports for games and apps, and/or access to social
> media.[xiii] If users were truly demanding a simple, single-purpose
> reading device, manufacturers would have no need to improve the ACS
> functionality of their products and add more features each year. The
> evolution of ACS capabilities in e-readers shows that the ACS functionality
> enhances and facilitates the functionality of the non-ACS function of
> reading, and that the Coalition members intend for users to access these
> functions as part of their reading experience.
> When deciding whether to grant a waiver, the Commission must look at
> whether the equipment is capable of accessing ACS, not how the equipment
> fares in comparison to multipurpose or different types of equipment that
> are also designed for ACS. E-readers have access to ACS and ACS is
> critical to the functioning of e-readers. Accordingly, a waiver is not
> legally available.
> B. *ACS features are marketed as desirable uses of an e-reader
> *As part of the second criterion in the waiver analysis, the Commission
> must examine whether the petitioners market their products as ACS devices.
> Although the Coalition states “[t]he webpage listings for e-readers do not
> mention or describe any ACS features…”[xiv] a brief examination of those
> webpages demonstrate that each member of the Coalition advertises the ACS
> features of its e-readers.
> The Kindle Paperwhite webpage advertises the product as “designed with
> readers in mind,” allowing users to “[s]hare highlighted sections, notes,
> and meaningful quotes on Facebook and Twitter directly…without leaving the
> page, or “[t]ake a break from reading to enjoy a selection of great games
> and applications specially designed for Kindle.”[xv]
> Reviewers considered Kobo’s “Reading Life,” the company’s built-in social
> networking technology, a major selling point at the 2011 launch of Kobo
> Touch.[xvi] The webpage for the Kobo Touch says a perk of being a “Kobo
> Reader” is that “Kobo Reading Life lets you…connect with your Facebook
> friends,” and “every time you reach a reading milestone, you'll earn
> Reading Life awards that you can share to your Facebook Timeline. You can
> also share your latest reads with your Facebook friends, and discover their
> bookshelves and reading stats. Get to know yourself a little better and
> connect with friends as you read.”[xvii]
> Although the Coalition warns that e-readers have “rudimentary browsers”
> with slow refresh rates that discourage use for ACS, the Sony e-reader
> headline touts that “you can also save your favorite web content to enjoy
> any time with the Evernote® Clearly feature.”[xviii] The only use of the
> “Evernote® Clearly” feature is to allow users to pull content from the web,
> from the browser, for reading later. This does not sound like a feature
> with limitations but rather a browser designed to be fast and user-friendly
> and even encourage use of ACS.
> Although certain common ACS features including e-mail, instant messaging,
> or VoIP, are not generally mentioned in the marketing of e-readers,[xix]
> manufacturers clearly market their products’ ability to access other ACS
> features like social networking and use of web browsers as desirable
> features of the products.
> *III. THE PETITION FOR WAIVER IS INVALID
> In addition to failing to meet the substantive waiver requirements, as
> discussed above, the Coalition fails to comply with the Commission’s
> procedural requirements. First, the Commission requires that “parties
> filing class waiver requests must explain in detail the expected lifecycle
> for the equipment or services that are part of the class…the definition of
> the class should include the product lifecycle.”[xx] This requirement
> exists so that the Commission has the opportunity to “examine the
> justification for the waiver extending through the lifecycle of each
> discrete generation” of a particular product.[xxi] Waivers are not
> The Coalition fails to provide any information about the expected
> lifecycle of e-readers, other than to say “e-readers are a well-established
> class of equipment that is not experiencing ‘convergence’ toward becoming a
> multipurpose device.” [xxii] Simple research shows that Amazon, Sony,
> and Kobo have released a new generation of e-readers with increasing ACS
> upgrades each year since 2010, and by the Coalition’s own admission “the
> number of manufacturers and models [of e-readers] has expanded
> substantially” since Sony launched the first e-reader in 2006.[xxiii]
> By failing to provide information on the lifecycle of e-readers, the
> Coalition fails to provide a length of duration for its request. It
> appears as though the Coalition seeks a permanent waiver for e-readers in
> order to avoid all accessibility requirements for future iterations of
> these devices. The Commission should not grant a waiver for multiple
> generations of equipment without requiring a petitioner to provide
> information on the product’s lifecycle.
> The Coalition’s characterization of the class of devices for which it
> seeks a waiver demonstrates the dangers in the Coalition’s request for an
> open-ended waiver. For example, the Coalition requests that the waiver
> apply only to devices that do not have an LCD screen[xxiv], presumably
> because LCD screens are more commonly found in tablets and devices designed
> for ACS while e-readers commonly have e-ink screens. This limitation,
> however, is dependent upon the popularity of LCD screens, which given the
> rate at which technology evolves, is impossible to predict. LCD could
> easily become obsolete, and whatever new technology replaces LCD would be
> exempt from CVAA requirements under this waiver as long as the device meets
> the other limitations.
> Furthermore, the Coalition’s request that the waiver apply only to devices
> that are not offered or shipped with built-in ACS client apps but that do
> include browsers and social media applications is equally problematic for
> the purpose of the CVAA. This factor initially sounds as if the Coalition
> wants the waiver for devices that have no ACS capability, which would be
> consistent with the goals of the CVAA, but the footnote to this factor
> shows that the Coalition crafted this categorization specifically to exempt
> the ACS functions that are commonly found in e-readers – browsers and
> social media applications. This “pick and choose” approach to policy is
> completely inconsistent with the CVAA. It would be the equivalent of a
> wireless handset manufacturer asking for a waiver for any smartphone that
> lacks video conferencing or browsing, even if the phone offered text
> messaging, voicemails, social media, and other types of ACS. Browsing and
> social media are clearly ACS functions, and the statute does not recognize
> particular ACS functions as more critical or fundamental for equal access
> than others.
> If the Commission grants a waiver using the categorization the Coalition
> has provided, it would invite developers to create low-end devices
> designed with the technical specifications in the waiver (no LCD screen, no
> camera, including a browser and social media access, marketed as a hybrid
> of a tablet/e-reader) to avoid accessibility. Section 718 of the CVAA
> requires manufacturers and service providers to make mobile Internet
> browsers accessible to blind people partly because of persistent barriers
> to accessibility found in new communications technologies.[xxv] To grant
> the waiver under these limitations is inconsistent with the goals of the
> Finally, the waiver request is invalid, because the Coalition provided no
> detailed information regarding (1) the lifecycle of the equipment, (2) the
> time-frame for the waiver, and (3) meaningful limitations that are
> technology agnostic and consistent with the ACS functions covered under the
> IV. GRANTING THE WAIVER WOULD HARM THE PUBLIC
> *The Coalition makes the remarkable assertion that “[r]endering ACS
> accessible on e-readers would require fundamentally altering of
> devices…[and] would not yield a meaningful benefit to individuals with
> disabilities.”[xxvi] The opposite is true: e-readers can be made
> accessible without a fundamental altering of the device and a waiver would
> harm the public by excluding print-disabled people from access to digital
> books and creating a disability tax for consumers with print disabilities.
> The disability community submits these comments to voice its unified
> opinion that the waiver the Coalition seeks would harm the public interest
> – the undersigned parties are in a better position to speak to the effects
> they would experience as a result of the waiver than a coalition of
> manufacturers who have been consistently hostile to incorporating
> accessible technology into their products.
> The conversion from print to digital books provides a unique opportunity
> to expand the circle of participation for users with all disabilities.
> Print is inherently inaccessible to the blind, but accessible digital
> content allows a blind person to transform into a mainstream user. This
> opportunity eliminates barriers to books, education, and communication for
> disabled people while increasing the number of eligible consumers in the
> marketplace. Sadly, the purveyors of digital books have missed out on this
> opportunity for market expansion by consistently producing inaccessible
> products, a trend that started with e-readers. Now, not only does the
> Coalition attempt to perpetuate this exclusion, but it claims that to
> rectify the situation would actually cause more harm than goodapparently
> equating their profitability with the public interest.
> E-readers can be made accessible without a fundamental altering of
> devices, a fact evident in the fact that certain manufacturers have
> actually *removed* accessibility solutions from their newer generation
> e-readers. After repeated urgings from the National Federation of the
> Blind, the 2009 Kindle 2, the 2010 Kindle Keyboard, and the 2011 Kindle
> Touch were outfitted with text-to-speech functionality. However, in 2012,
> Amazon discontinued its efforts to provide even rudimentary accessibility
> when it released the Kindle Paperwhite, a device without any audio output.
> Neither choice, to include or exclude an accessibility feature,
> fundamentally altered the nature of a Kindle e-reader.
> The Coalition claims that making ACS accessible on e-readers would
> drastically alter the weight and battery life, and undercut distinctive
> features like price points.[xxvii] The Kindle Touch (which has
> accessibility features) weighs 7.8 ounces and a single charge lasts up to
> eight weeks.[xxviii] The Kindle Paperwhite (which *does not* have
> accessibility features) weighs 7.5 ounces and a single charge also lasts up
> to eight weeks.[xxix] Thus, the product specifications themselves
> demonstrate that there is no meaningful correlation between an increase in
> accessibility features and an increase in weight or a decrease in battery
> life. Removing the external speakers or headset jack and de-programming
> content so it cannot be read audibly did nothing to change the other
> desirable features of the device; rather it merely denied blind people
> access to books. The Coalition attempts to show that inaccessibility is a
> necessary evil when in reality it is an unjustifiable business choice.
> The Coalition also claims that the devices would need to be redesigned to
> be optimized for ACS because the current inaccessible ACS features provide
> a very low-quality experience.[xxx] Embracing accessibility would simply
> give print-disabled users access to this low-quality experience; web
> content can be made accessible regardless of whether a site is dynamic or
> boring, or has fast refresh rates or slow processing time. Accessibility
> is independent of optimization.
> Granting the waiver would perpetuate the misconception that accessibility
> is difficult to accomplish and requires a fundamental overhaul that will
> render e-readers obsolete. It would also stand in sharp contrast with
> other preexisting legal obligations and societal trends towards equal
> access in the digital world. The Americans with Disabilities Act and
> Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibit the use of inaccessible
> technology in the classroom as a violation of print-disabled students’
> rights. Subsequent guidance issued by the Department of Justice and the
> Department of Education specifically directs postsecondary institutions to
> “refrain from requiring the use of any electronic book reader, or other
> similar technology, in a teaching or classroom environment as long as the
> device remains inaccessible to individuals who are blind or have low
> vision. It is unacceptable for universities to use emerging technology
> without insisting that this technology be accessible to all students.”[xxxi]
> To grant the Coalition’s waiver would undermine the efforts of the
> Department of Justice and the Department of Education to promote the
> creation and use of accessible e-reader devices. The Coalition’s
> resistance to embracing accessibility has created a barrier to the
> increased use of digital technology in K-12 education. A section of the
> Kindle Paperwhite’s webpage is dedicated to “Kindle for Education and
> Business,” saying, “the same great features that help you lose yourself in
> a book on Kindle translate seamlessly to the classroom, helping students
> learn to read or study more effectively,” and touting Amazon’s online free
> tool Whispercast. Amazon is obviously targeting K-12 school districts and
> postsecondary institutions as large purchasers of the Kindle Paperwhite,
> and yet those entities cannot take advantage of Amazon’s innovations
> because the products are inaccessible. It would be beneficial for the
> company to make the product accessible in order to take full advantage of
> that market. It would also allow blind students to access the same
> mainstream materials as their sighted peers. The CVAA is in harmony with
> current law, which prioritizes equal access by mandating accessibility. A
> waiver or exemption from the new accessibility requirement would provide a
> disincentive to comply with preexisting legal requirements.
> Furthermore, a waiver would create a “disability tax.” The Coalition’s
> primary argument that its requested waiver would benefit the public
> interest is based on the market for low-cost e-readers. Although the
> manufacturers’ evolution away from previously included accessibility
> features included in equally low-cost earlier e-readers suggests that the
> Coalition’s claim is without factual basis, low-cost e-readers stripped of
> accessibility features would require people with print disabilities to
> purchase the Coalition’s higher-end products, with many more features than
> they would want to use, just to be able to read digital books. The
> Coalition notes that there are free and accessible reading apps for mobile
> phones, tablets, PCs and Macs,[xxxii] while ignoring that these devices
> are more expensive than e-readers. If the Coalition got its wish, blind
> users would be left with two expensive choices: pay a human reader to read
> a print book or buy a significantly more expensive tablet, computer, or
> phone to have access to the free reading app. This situation puts a large
> burden or tax on disabled readers, while meeting accessibility requirements
> would put a small burden on the Coalition.
> The Coalition endorses a “separate, but equal” standard of access that is
> inconsistent with the spirit of the CVAA. The purpose of the CVAA is to
> “increase the access of persons with disabilities to modern communications”[xxxiii]
> yet the Coalition’s petition purports that it is completely acceptable to
> deny disabled people access to modern products like e-readers as long as
> “high quality free alternatives” are available. Not only are these
> alternatives not free but, by their very nature these alternatives are
> inherently different and therefore, unequal. The scenario described above
> (the blind users’ two options if the waiver is granted) is an example of
> the digital divide that the CVAA is trying to rectify. History has shown
> that having two different standards of access is unacceptable and that a
> dual system of management fails to provide equality every single time, so
> we urge the Commission not to perpetuate this failed system by granting the
> The Coalition’s waiver would also buck international trends toward the
> promotion of accessible digital technology. Simultaneous to the Department
> of Justice and the Department of Education’s review of this issue and
> demand for equal access for blind students, the trend of increased access
> to books has gone global. International negotiators meeting under the
> auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) adopted the
> Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who
> Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, a treaty
> permitting the reproduction and distribution of published works in
> accessible formats across borders to eliminate duplication, increase
> efficiency, and address the “book famine” plaguing blind people across the
> World.[xxxiv] The parties involved in the WIPO treaty are committed to
> increasing the availability of published works as quickly as possible,
> while the Coalition appears committed to inaccessibility and exclusion.
> * V. CONCLUSION
> The creation of accessible e-readers would benefit not only people with
> disabilities, but the Coalition members themselves. To grant a waiver for
> e-readers would not only support the Coalition members in their
> long-standing resistance to making their products accessible, but undermine
> preexisting legal obligations and the trends toward accessibility
> demonstrated by the DOJ, the DOE, and the WIPO treaty.
> For the reasons set forth above, the undersigned organizations urge the
> Commission to reject the waiver request from the Coalition of E-reader
> Manufacturers. That action is consistent with the objectives of the CVAA,
> the criteria for a waiver, and the best interest of the public.
> Respectfully submitted,
> Marc Maurer, President
> NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
> 200 East Wells Street
> Baltimore, MD 21230
> (410) 659-9314
> [i] Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers Petition for Waiver (“Petition”).
> Docket No. CG 10-213, filed May 16, 2013.
> [ii] Coalition Ex Parte Letter Supplementing the Coalition Petition
> (“Supplementing letter”), filed July 17, 2013.
> [iii] Implementation of Sections 716 and 717 of the Communications Act of
> 1934, as Enacted by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video
> Accessibility Act of 2010, CG Docket No. 10-213, WT Docket No. 96-168, CG
> Docket No. 10-145, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
> Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶ 16 (2011) (“ACS Report and Order”).
> [iv] In the Petition, the Coalition repeatedly touts “reading” as the
> primary purpose of e-readers
> [v] ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶ 18.
> [vi] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division and U.S. Department
> of Education, Office of Civil Rights. "Joint ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter:
> Electronic Book Readers” 29 June 2010. Online at:
> http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100629.html, accessed August 15, 2013.
> [vii] ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶ 179.
> [viii] ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶ 184.
> [ix] The Commission has recognized that a device with ACS capabilities can
> have a co-primary purpose with a non-ACS function. For example “many
> smartphones appear to be designed for several purposes, including voice
> communications, text messaging, and e-mail, as well as web browsing…access
> to applications…The CVAA would have little meaning if [the Commission] were
> to consider waiving Section 716 with respect to the e-mail and text
> messaging features of a smartphone on the grounds that the phone was
> designed in part for voice communications…both could be co-primary purposes
> of a wireless handset.” *See *ACS Report and Order 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶
> [x] ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶ 27.
> [xi] *See* Petition at 7.
> [xii] http://www.kobo.com/koboglo/readinglife/, accessed August 19, 2013.
> [xiii] The 2010 Sony Reader PRS-305 did come with a built-in browser.
> [xiv] *See* Petition at 7.
> [xv] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007OZNUCE, accessed August 16,
> [xvi] Owen, *Kobo’s New E-Reader Aims Turn Reading into a Game, *
> http://paidcontent.org/2011/05/23/419-kobos-new-e-reader-aims-to-turn-reading-into-a-game/, accessed on August 16, 2013.
> [xvii] http://www.kobo.com/kobotouch, accessed August 19, 2013.
> http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666483313, accessed August 19, 2013.
> [xix] *See *Petition at 7.
> [xx] ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶¶ 18, 194.
> [xxi] *See* ACS Report and Order. 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶ 18.
> [xxii] *See* Petition at 11-12.
> [xxiii] *See* Petition at 3.
> [xxiv] *See *Supplementing Letter at 1.
> [xxv] *See* ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557 at ¶¶ 6, 7.
> [xxvi] *See* Petition at 8
> [xxvii] *See* Petition at 9
> accessed August 26, 2013.
> [xxix] http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Paperwhite-Touch-light/dp/B007OZNZG0,
> accessed August 26, 2013.
> [xxx] *See* Petition at 8.
> [xxxi] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division and U.S.
> Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. "Joint ‘Dear Colleague’
> Letter: Electronic Book Readers” 29 June 2010. Online at:
> http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100629.html, accessed August 15, 2013.
> [xxxii] *See* Petition at 11.
> [xxxiii] Pub. L. No. 111-260
> [xxxiv] http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2013/article_0017.html
> *E-Reader Skeleton Letter*
> First Name Last Name
> Title, if any
> September 3, 2013
> Kris Monteith
> Acting Bureau Chief
> Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
> Federal Communications Commission
> 445 12th Street SW
> Washington, DC 20554
> Re: Reply to the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers’ Petition for Waiver
> from CVAA Accessibility Requirements, CG Docket No. 10-213
> Dear. Mr. Monteith:
> [Introduction paragraph: Explain who you are, your profession, and make
> note of the fact that you’re a blind person. Explain what access to
> digital books would mean to you].
> I strongly oppose the Petition for Waiver submitted by the Coalition of
> E-Reader Manufacturers’, requesting that e-readers be exempt from the
> Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).
> [Select a few of the following talking points and put into a narrative
> using your own words. Or you can write your own arguments that are
> consistent with the NFB’s official comments put out by the national office:
> 1. The spirit of the CVAA is to increase the accessibility of mobile
> advanced communications services (ACS) and e-readers have ACS
> functionality. Most e-reader users I know post to Facebook and exchange
> books with friends. It would not make sense to grant a waiver for a class
> of products that are clearly intended to be covered by the CVAA.
> 2. The Coalition claims that the primary purpose of e-readers is
> reading, not ACS, and yet I believe that the ACS found in e-readers is part
> of the intended purpose. The ability to connect with friends, share
> content, and access the internet are the very features that set e-readers
> apart from print books. ACS facilitates the reading experience and is,
> therefore, a co-primary purpose of e-readers.
> 3. E-readers can easily be made accessible. All digital content can
> be made accessible to a blind person if the content is programmed to be
> read audibly, audio output like speakers or a phone jack are added, and
> accessibility is considered during the design phase. The Coalition’s claim
> that to make e-readers accessible would require a fundamental overhaul of
> the equipment is false.
> 4. I want access to digital books. Since the first e-reader came out
> in 2006, I have felt like a second class citizen missing out on all of the
> innovative benefits of digital books. If I want to read a Kindle book, I
> have to buy a very-expensive Apple iPad. Then I can download the free
> Kindle app, but that application is not fully accessible. I want to be a
> mainstream user and would happily buy an e-reader if one was accessible,
> but the manufacturers continue to exclude me from their customer pool. I
> reject the Coalition’s notion that to make their product accessible would
> not provide me with any substantial benefits. In reality, it will give me
> options as a consumer and equal access as my sighted peers.
> 5. The Department of Justice and the Department of Education prohibit
> K-12 school districts and institutions of higher education from using
> inaccessible e-readers, yet the Coalition continues to knowingly sell
> inaccessible equipment to schools. The CVAA is consistent with preexisting
> legal requirements, and the FCC should not give the Coalition incentive to
> continue resisting accessibility.
> 6. The Coalition suggests that the waiver only apply to e-readers that
> do not have ACS capabilities, but then says that the products may have
> browsers and social media. This is not a meaningful limitation. The CVAA
> requires that ACS be accessible, and the FCC should not allow some services
> to be more important and others worthy of a waiver.
> 7. The Coalition fails to provide any details on the lifecycle of its
> products or a potential time frame for the waiver. An indefinite, blanket
> waiver would harm the public, is inconsistent with the CVAA, and should not
> be granted in the face of these omissions.
> [Provide an anecdote of a time when you wanted to buy an e-reader, or
> could not use an e-reader, or saw a sighted person using an e-reader for
> ACS. If you do not have an anecdote, you can just repeat what access to
> digital books would mean to you].
> I strongly urge the FCC to reject the Coalition’s petition and uphold the
> spirit of the CVAA. E-readers and the ACS features found in that equipment
> must be made accessible and granting a waiver would perpetuate the digital
> divide and discrimination in the marketplace that I face every day.
> Your name
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