[fcb-l] FW: [Leadership] FW: Library Journal article about LA Public LibraryStatement
pedwards at mdc.edu
Tue Oct 20 18:57:31 GMT 2009
From: leadership-bounces at acb.org [mailto:leadership-bounces at acb.org] On Behalf Of Mitch Pomerantz
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 2:18 PM
To: leadership at acb.org; acb-l at acb.org
Subject: [Leadership] FW: Library Journal article about LA Public LibraryStatement
I am posting this both because everyone should know of this successful initiative of the Reading Rights Coalition, but also because the Los Angeles Public Library is a facility with which I worked closely for many years. I am proud of the position taken by the library.
From: Mehgan Sidhu [mailto:ms at browngold.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 8:13 AM
To: readingrights at daisy.org
Subject: Library Journal article about LA Public Library Statement
Ebook Accessibility Issues Trouble OverDrive and Adobe
Los Angeles PL has suspended buying OverDrive ebooks because they are inaccessible to users with print disabilities
Josh Hadro -- Library Journal, 10/14/2009
* Software update from Adobe disables text-to-speech functionality
* Print disability advocacy group prompts LAPL to suspend purchasing
* Audiobooks seen as partial solution
* OverDrive puts pressure on Adobe while exploring other avenues
Some 30 million Americans potentially rely on software accessibility features to access library materials, according to the Reading Rights Coalition <http://www.readingrights.org/> (RRC). So last spring, when text-to-speech (TTS) stopped working on OverDrive <http://overdrive.com/> ebooks because of a software change from Adobe <http://www.adobe.com> , millions of print-disabled patrons found themselves with fewer options for accessing digital library materials.
In response, the RRC-a group of 32 organizations representing those with print disabilities-asked <http://www.readingrights.org/471> the Los Angeles Public Library <http://www.lapl.org/> (LAPL) in July to take action. In the letter, the RRC cited the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, saying that "[b]oth of these laws require libraries to ensure that their communications with people with disabilities are as effective as their communications with nondisabled people."
Los Angeles City Librarian Martín Gómez responded <http://www.readingrights.org/477> that LAPL would suspend "all purchasing of Adobe Digital Editions e-books until the TTS option is restored," though he noted that any action taken on the library's existing collection of 773 non-compliant ebooks would be a "hardship to our patrons." (Other ebooks, such as those purchased from netLibrary, do not use the Adobe Digital Editions platform and remain accessible.)
In a statement to LJ, LAPL suggested a format switch as an alternative, noting that it "is continuing to purchase e-audiobooks that are accessible to the print-impaired patrons."
Eve Hill, Senior VP of the Burton Blatt Institute <http://bbi.syr.edu/> and a lawyer for the RRC, said that LAPL was chosen as the site for the group's initial protest because she had worked with the library previously, and because the library had been an early adopter of ebooks.
The situation puts OverDrive in a difficult position, caught between its reliance on Adobe software and library customers.
Anticipating just such an issue, OverDrive CEO Steve Potash sent a letter to its customers nearly two months before LAPL suspended its purchases. The memo explains how the removal of the TTS feature and highlights the company's dedication to accessibility for all of its digital materials, including the hosting and operation of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) in partnership with the American Printing House for the Blind.
"We've been a little frustrated," said Potash, adding that the company has "been persistent in urging Adobe to make [accessibility] a high priority." And though it hopes TTS and other accessbility features will soon be restored to the Digital Editions software, Potash also said that OverDrive is "working on other avenues should there be no movement from Adobe."
To complete the circle of mutual dissatisfaction, Adobe's general manager for ePublishing Business Bill McCoy similarly expressed dismay.
In a frank blog post <http://blogs.adobe.com/billmccoy/2009/10/adobe-ebooks--.html> , McCoy said that he considered it "a regrettable situation" and "a black eye for me personally that Adobe's solution does not presently provide accessibility support."
"I expect we will be able to make some specific announcements around this very shortly, but the bottom line is that there will soon be multiple means for visually-impaired end users to consume Adobe eBooks," he added.
Nick Bogaty, Adobe Senior Business Development Manager, said that the company was engaged in two different strategies. First, the company is working on restoring TTS to its Digital Editions software, along with a number of other accessibility enhancements, though these won't be available to end users until sometime in 2010.
More immediately, however, Adobe is working toward a number of partnerships with vendors of accessibility support products. These developers will be given access to the Digital Editions software developer's kit (SDK) on "very favorable terms," which should allow them to jumpstart the print-disabled users access to ebooks.
Bogaty acknowledged that this temporary solution would require library patrons to purchase products made by these companies, but said that it was the most expedient solution for the time being, given that "they can release hardware and software faster than we can build support into Adobe Digital Editions," he said.
RRC remains concerned
The RRC's Hill, however, remains frustrated. Responding to McCoy's blog post, she said, "it's sort of as if they're treating the print disability as a charity," something to be addressed "only after the real market."
"This has been Adobe's position all along," she added, noting that it would be easier for all parties involved-Adobe, LAPL, OverDrive, and the RRC-if software platform companies like Adobe would hew to accessibility standards from their first forays into development.
Hill said the RRC will soon be working with other libraries in the coming months to increase awareness of digital accessibility issues, just as it had worked with the American Library Association (ALA) earlier this year to influence a resolution on compliance with accessibility guidelines <http://bbi.syr.edu/events/2009/purchasing_accessible_electronic_resources_resolution_adopted.htm> .
While careful to say there were no plans for legal action from the RRC, Hill pointed out that libraries have an obligation to provide equal access to materials, and could potentially face legal challenges if they don't adhere to that obligation and require their vendors to do the same.
Contact the author: josh.hadro at reedbusiness.com
© 2009, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP
120 East Baltimore Street, Suite 1700
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
ms at browngold.com
This e-mail may contain confidential information that may also be legally privileged and that is intended only for the use of the addressee(s) named above. If you are not the intended recipient or an authorized agent of the recipient, please be advised that any dissemination or copying of this e-mail, or taking of any action in reliance on the information contained herein, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify me immediately by use of the reply button, and then delete the e-mail from your system. Thank you!
Equal, not Separate, Reading Rights - http://www.readingrights.org/
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-readingrights-6632P at mail.daisy.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
-------------- next part --------------
An embedded and charset-unspecified text was scrubbed...
More information about the fcb-l