With the launch of the Amazon Kindle 2 and its text-to-speech feature, a broader range of reading materials would now be available to the 15 million Americans represented by The Reading Rights Coalition, a group which defends the rights of those who cannot read printed words because of blindness, dyslexia, spinal cord injury, or other disabilities. However, The Authors Guild is looking add a hoop or two for people with print disabilities to jump through .
As previously written by my colleague Greg Sandoval, "the retailer, which makes the popular Kindle electronic-book reader, announced late Friday that the company is modifying systems to allow authors and publishers to decide whether to enable Kindle's text-to-speech function on a per-title basis."
According to The Reading Rights Coalition: "The Guild has told them that in order to read their books with text-to-speech they must either submit to a burdensome special registration system and prove their disabilities--or pay extra. The Guild's position is contrary to the principle of equal opportunity for all and discriminates against millions of people with print disabilities. The Guild's position is outrageous and discriminates against the millions of people with print disabilities who are eager to be their readers and customers."
A protest took place today in front of the Authors Guild building on 32nd Street in New York. Busloads of protesters with picket signs rallied for the right not to pay extra or to be denied the right to enjoy a book on the Kindle 2.
The lineup consisted of speakers that included leaders in the disability rights community. Dr. Fred Schroeder, former commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and first vice president of the National Federation of the Blind was there.
The demonstration was calm and no police intervention was required; however, New York's finest were present. For those who may have wanted to participate in the protest, it will continue on the West coast at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, at a time to be determined. It will take place at UCLA.
If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so on this Web site.
The Reading Rights Coalition is comprised of the following members:
11. Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
12. IDEAL Group, Inc.