“DOJ Targeted Public Library for Lending E-Books ‘Inaccessible’ to the Blind”
The U.S. Justice Department says it has reached a settlement with the Sacramento (California) Public Library over a trial program the library was conducting that let patrons borrow Barnes and Noble NOOK e-book readers.
DOJ and the National Federation of the Blind objected to the program on grounds that blind people could not use the NOOK e-readers for technological reasons.
The Justice Department said the settlement is aimed at stopping discrimination: “Emerging technologies like e-readers are changing the way we interact with the world around us and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the programs where these devices are used,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in a news release.
A DOJ official told CNSNews.com it interviewed a woman who could not participate in the library’s e-reader program due to her disability and concluded that the program had violated the ADA.
According to an article posted on NFB’s website, while e-books “are an especially exciting development” for blind readers, Nook’s “bookstore, desktop software, mobile software, and dedicated hardware reading devices are all inaccessible to blind users.”
The settlement agreement also directs the library not to buy any additional e-readers that exclude blind or disabled people; and it requires the library system to train its staff on the requirements of the ADA, the DOJ said.
“We are pleased that the Sacramento Public Library Authority worked so cooperatively to adopt measures that will allow patrons with disabilities to avail themselves equally of the library’s programs and services,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner.
Let’s just go ahead and say it: the reason blind people can’t use e-readers has nothing to do with the technology of these particular e-readers. It has to do with the blindness of the blind people. That the Department of Justice would presume to deny people the use of this technology because some others haven’t the ability to use it, is one of a billion reasons why we don’t want the State making these kinds of decisions for us — and why the kind of egalitarianism pushed by the radical left is so dangerous, based as it is around an idea of enforced conformity.
I mean, seriously: the blind can’t read traditional print books. Should libraries not be allowed to purchase and offer any of those, either? Will the DOJ require public museums to give the blind leave to feel paintings and other works of art?
This kind of suit — and settlement — is no more intellectually defensible than would be a DOJ edict outlawing blindness on the basis that it discriminates against the blind. Or some new law declaring that, because blind people exist, those who aren’t blind must put their own eyes out — because not doing so is insensitive to those who can’t themselves see.
But then again, when the government owns you, like it does public libraries (and our health care!), it gets to make the rules.
Christ. What country is this?