Americas Jan 5, 2012
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s leading advocate for access to technology by blind people, announced that it has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, requesting an investigation of the Baltimore City Public Schools’ proposed acquisition of NOOK devices.
The NFB filed the complaint because the Baltimore City Public Schools recently announced a partnership with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to overhaul the school libraries in six middle schools in the district.
As part of the partnership’s plan, the selected school libraries will acquire an unspecified number of NOOK e-reader devices. These devices are inaccessible to blind and other print-disabled students. The NFB raised its concern with leaders in the Baltimore City Public Schools but has been told that the district is moving forward with its plans to implement these devices while it seeks “alternative emerging technology”– in other words, a needlessly segregated technology for students with print disabilities. Because the NOOK is inaccessible to blind students, the Baltimore schools’ use of the devices violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind will not tolerate blind students receiving an unequal education. If e-reading devices are available in school libraries, they must be accessible to all students, not just the sighted. Appropriately, the date of this comAplaint falls on the birthday of Louis Braille, who first brought literacy to the blind and fought for the right of blind students to read independently. He would not stand for this glaring inequity and neither will we. That is why we have asked the United States Department of Justice to act swiftly and decisively to ensure that blind students receive the same education as their sighted peers.”