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Requiring Use of Electronic Book Readers May Violate ADA/504

Higher Education Publications

On June 29, 2010, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a joint letter to college and university presidents nationwide expressing concern that their institutions might be requiring students to use electronic book readers (e.g., Kindle, iPad) that are inaccessible to those with visual impairments. According to the letter, many of these devices lack a “text-to-speech” function and therefore, cannot be effectively used by blind and low-vision students.  Indeed, the letter admonishes the institutions to proceed with caution in requiring the use of any emerging technology in a classroom environment.  If the technology is not equally accessible to disabled students, requiring its use may violate the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  A list of FAQs provided by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education is also available.