Tuesday, August 03, 2010

More From the "You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up" File: Universities That Use Kindles vs. the ADA

From today's Washington Examiner:

"The Justice Department threatened several universities with legal action because they took part in an experimental program to allow students to use the Amazon Kindle for textbooks. Last year, Princeton, Arizona State and Case Western Reserve wanted to know if e-book readers would be more convenient and less costly than traditional textbooks. The environmentally conscious educators also wanted to reduce the huge amount of paper students use to print files from their laptops.

It seemed like a promising idea until the universities got a letter from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, now under an aggressive new chief, Thomas Perez, telling them they were under investigation for possible violations of the ADA.

The Civil Rights Division informed the schools they were under investigation. In subsequent talks, the Justice Department demanded the universities stop distributing the Kindle; if blind students couldn't use the device, then nobody could. The Federation made the same demand in a separate lawsuit against Arizona State."


HT: Colin Grabow

42 Comments:

At 8/03/2010 11:19 AM, Blogger NC said...

Equality of outcomes....

liberal equality metrics also place American health care below Cuba.

 
At 8/03/2010 11:22 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Sounds like somebody is using the ADA to protect their racket. The universities are in need of a thorough house cleaning in this age of the internet. We could save tens of billions in consolidations. Time for the army of gold bricking, Marxist professors to get the steel toe and find useful jobs like serving me up some french fries.

 
At 8/03/2010 11:27 AM, Blogger MMR said...

Wouldn't this same logic compel blind students to give up braille textbooks?

 
At 8/03/2010 11:33 AM, Blogger Cabodog said...

Disgusting. ADA, and our government, has gone too far.

 
At 8/03/2010 11:39 AM, Blogger jk said...

This makes no sense. The Kindle can typically read books to the user.

 
At 8/03/2010 11:56 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Apparently the Handicapper General has found a new job at the Justice Dept.

Where's Walt G.? He must have something to say about this. Equal treatment and compliance are hot items, after all.

 
At 8/03/2010 12:37 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

America has way too many economic parasites. The ADA gang, the military, the lawyers-legal system, the rural economy.
Productive working citizens have to pay for all of these claims on our real output.
It has reached the breaking point.
Look I feel for handicapped people, for veterans, for bona fide poor dirt farmers (all six of them left in America). I guess I do not feel sorry for lawyers.
But we simply have to orient our economy to reward the productive people, not the parasites.

 
At 8/03/2010 12:38 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.

Too busy reading this to respond.
Movies

 
At 8/03/2010 12:53 PM, Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Free text to voice readers are available.

 
At 8/03/2010 1:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Wouldn't this same logic compel blind students to give up braille textbooks?"

Well, actually, no. You see, blind students are "victims", as are all others with less than perfect physical function, as well as anyone who might suffer in some way from social or economic inequality for any reason. Anyone not a member of this very large group is an "oppressor", and must pay in some way for this unacceptable mistreatment.

 
At 8/03/2010 1:15 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Walt, what the hell is "video description?"

Have we, as a society, lost our collective minds?

 
At 8/03/2010 1:28 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Jason, as close as I can tell, if it were a XXX movie, it would be like phone sex. All kidding aside, read about it below from the source document. That our input on the regulation is solicited and encouraged is what we should get out of this. Don't be one of those "it does not matter" people.

"Video description is a technology that enables individuals who are blind or have low vision to enjoy movies by providing a spoken narration of key visual elements of a movie, such as actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes. Visual description fills in information about the visual content of a movie where there are no corresponding audio elements in the film. It requires the creation of a separate script written by specially trained writers who prepare a script for video description that is recorded on an audiotape or CD that is synchronized with the film as it is projected. The script is transmitted to the user through infra-red or FM transmission to wireless headsets."

 
At 8/03/2010 1:42 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Walt, what the hell is "video description?""

Jason, I can answer that: It's a bland voiced narrator who blathers on during the movie attempting to describe to you what you might see if you were actually watching the movie. Some movies on DVD include this as one of the selectable subtitles. It's a really inadequate substitute for actually seeing the movie.

"Have we, as a society, lost our collective minds?"

Yes.

 
At 8/03/2010 1:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

MMR-

or perhaps more to the point, wouldn't this same logic ban all non braille textbooks?

i mean, it's not as though the blind can use them. shall we also take all the language tapes out of the french department because the deaf cannot use them?

if the ADA's goal is to remove any shred of sympathy from public perception of the disabled, they are well on their way.

FWIW, this same thing happened in san francisco. our public schools were sued and forced to spend about $30 million upgrading every single classroom to make it blind accessible. i think there were about 25 kids affected.

($10 million payday to the lawyer though which may call his motives into a bit of doubt...)

 
At 8/03/2010 2:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G.

Thanks for this gem. The Handicapper General strikes once more! This is a laugh a minute, until you remember it's dead serious.

The very idea that a blind person would CONSIDER going to a movie defies comprehension.

Video Description will never adequately compensate for lack of vision, because using the universally accepted equivalence of 1 picture = 1000 words, and assuming an acceptable frame rate is 30 frames/sec, the video description would need to flow at 30k words per second. I don't think anyone can process language at that rate. Even using compressed video that doesn't require the entire frame to change won't help enough. *

As Video Description will never be an adequate "alternative experience", it will never be ADA compliant, and if tried in California, will quickly run afoul of the 9th CCOA as not providing an "equivalent" experience.

From the ANPRM:

"It requires the creation of a separate script written by specially trained writers who prepare a script..."

In other words, it makes the movie cost more. You can be sure this cost will be socialized rather then charged only to those who might benefit.

As to closed captions or subtitles, I often use them at home, as I have some hearing loss, but I certainly wouldn't ask others to experience them in a theater. as with video description, this will increase movie costs, and we will all likely get to pay for them.


* in case clarification is needed, this is intended to be a joke

 
At 8/03/2010 2:33 PM, Blogger Frozen in the North said...

Something is missing from the narrative, since ordinary text book are not accessible (anymore) than an kindle.

I just don't buy the analysis -- however amusing the headline.

 
At 8/03/2010 2:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"($10 million payday to the lawyer though which may call his motives into a bit of doubt...)"

Au contraire, I think it makes his motives crystal clear.

 
At 8/03/2010 2:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Frozen in the North said...

"Something is missing from the narrative, since ordinary text book are not accessible (anymore) than an kindle."

There are Braille textbooks as alternatives for some printed textbooks, but no such equivalence for Kindle, although as has been pointed out by others on this thread, there are audio resources available.

Perhaps there is something about the "Kindle experience" not available to people who are visually 'less privileged'. We can't have anyone experiencing something a visually impaired person can't, now can we?

If you are expecting anything new from ADA to make sense, you are likely doomed to dissapointment.

 
At 8/03/2010 3:03 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Time for the army of gold bricking, Marxist professors to get the steel toe and find useful jobs like serving me up some french fries."

Isn't THAT the truth. Do you think they could handle onion rings? That would be my preference.

 
At 8/03/2010 3:08 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Productive working citizens have to pay for all of these claims on our real output."

benji, you seem to be including yourself, so I have to ask:
Just what do you do that's productive, and how do you have time to do it when you're blathering here so much of the time?

 
At 8/03/2010 3:16 PM, Blogger reprise8 said...

Since undoubtedly some students can't read at all, no one else should have any books, printed OR braille. It would be unfair.

 
At 8/03/2010 3:53 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H.

Cabinets, furniture. I make them. Also tables for sports bars. See Sportsbartables.com

The work is mind-numbing at times (have you ever polished tops for eight hours?) so I take quick breaks to fire off jabs at people like you.

Really, I am a right-winger. I just tire of what passes for the right-wing today.

Best wishes to you.

 
At 8/03/2010 6:52 PM, Blogger pamelahazelton said...

I think the point is that while the Kindle can "read you" the book, you can't fully navigate the Kindle to get to the book.

To the naysayers, you need to realize that Braille is a dying language, and requiring electronic devices that make it impossible for a blind user to navigate is a huge problem. It would then require that user to have a sidekick available 24/7.

This can all be resolved, though, with a few tech updates to the Kindle itself.

 
At 8/03/2010 7:17 PM, Blogger Arthur said...

The same rationalization demands that they cease making movies. Our legal system has lost its mind.

Imagine treating corporations the same as people when supporting political candidates.

And the list of stupidity goes on, and on, and on, and on . . .

 
At 8/03/2010 7:24 PM, Blogger Arthur said...

So by the same rationalization they have to stop making movies. Aren't the books available verbally?

Just by using Kindle doesn't mean the texts aren't available to blind students by other means.

Our legal system has lost its feeble mind.

 
At 8/03/2010 10:09 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Imagine treating corporations the same as people when supporting political candidates."

Well, corporations are just groups of people with the same goals. Like they say: people have a right to free speech, and a right to assemble, so why not a right to free speech when they are assembled?

 
At 8/04/2010 12:12 AM, Blogger qed said...

Greetings of Stupidity from Slovakia!

 
At 8/04/2010 5:02 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

pamelahazleton: "To the naysayers, you need to realize that Braille is a dying language, and requiring electronic devices that make it impossible for a blind user to navigate is a huge problem."

Who required the use of Kindles, Pamela? I did not read that anywhere in the article. In fact the article states that:

"the program was voluntary and students could opt out of using the Kindle."

Why would sight-disabled want to deny almost the entire popuulation the right to make use of technological advancement, pamela? If the Kindle makes learning easier for everyone else except the blind, why deny that advancement?

The Left's demands for an "equal" world are just outrageous. We are not born with equal abilities. Our abilities do not remain equal throughout our lives. No amount of intrusions on our freedom is ever going to change that. But that won't stop your silly dream, will it?

 
At 8/04/2010 6:58 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

You know, a lot of things seem outrageous, but are not when you perform an objective analysis. Take Rear Window captioning for the hearing impaired and Descriptive Video Service for the blind in movie theaters. Both of these features allow the disabled to enjoy movies in theaters without bothering the other non- disabled customers. I think we can agree that’s a fine idea, but you don’t want to pay for it, right? You probably don’t even know how much it would cost.

Here’s a Cost analysis: Each screen can be equipped for $12,000 if they are not digital and $7,500 if they are digital. I don’t know how many seats are in a modern theater, so let’s use 100 seats (feel free to use your own and better number of seats or any other number here). That’s a one-time cost of $120 to $75 per seat respectively. I am not sure about the lifecycle of this technology, but I will use a five-year lifecycle, which makes each seat $24 to $15 per year. How many times is each seat sold per year? I’ll use 200 times, so that’s 12 to 7.5 cents per seat. Of course this is just an estimate; however, you get the idea behind my analysis.

I don’t know how important the proposed ADA rule change is to you, but it might mean that I go to movies much more often, and it is rather cheap even though you might have to pay a few pennies for my enjoyment. I promise I will buy some popcorn and pop to improve the owners’ profits and lower your cost. Make sure you comment about this proposed rule. I know I will.

 
At 8/04/2010 7:54 AM, Blogger Free2Choose said...

" don’t know how important the proposed ADA rule change is to you, but it might mean that I go to movies much more often, and it is rather cheap even though you might have to pay a few pennies for my enjoyment. I promise I will buy some popcorn and pop to improve the owners’ profits and lower your cost."

Which is exactly why these decisions should be made by market players (i.e. the producers who may or may not stand to gain from implementing the technologies and the consumers who may or may not be willing to pay for them). The debate is about whether the state should be allowed to infringe on the rights of private property owners by making these silly mandates.

 
At 8/04/2010 9:45 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Free2Choose,

I agree to a point, and I disagree to a point. There has to be common sense, but we should not cost-justify someone in a wheel chair having accessible bathrooms.

I like to see how cheap some of these "outrageous" claims are when using an economy of scale spread across all the customers or population. I will keep my outrage over the per-citizen-cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan war or the national debt and let them install these units in every theater in the country for 12-cents-a-seat if they want to.

Using a $1 trillion dollar cost for the wars and $14 trillion dollars for the national debt, it would cost every man, woman and child $3,326.81 and $45,175.33 respectively (using a 309,903,684 U.S. million population U.S. Census estimate today). Now that’s outrageous!!

 
At 8/04/2010 1:12 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G., you're presenting the classical argument for socializing the cost of something for the benefit of the few. It's just wrong. Certainly no one would object to paying 12 cents more for a movie ticket, but why should they be forced to pay for something they get no benefit from? The cost is not the issue here, ,Walt, it's the socialization.

Not that it matters, but you haven't included the costs of captioning the movie, or adding the DVS track, nor the additional operating costs to the theater.

"...but it might mean that I go to movies much more often, and it is rather cheap even though you might have to pay a few pennies for my enjoyment."

You shouldn't take money out of my pocket to pay for your enjoyment.

"I promise I will buy some popcorn and pop to improve the owners’ profits and lower your cost"

...Or not. LOL that's really funny, and you know it. If you're that appreciative, then you won't mind just paying a couple of extra bucks at the door for the use of the reflective panel or wireless headset you require. Then your hand will be out of my pocket.

And, if theater owners thought that attracting people with impaired sight or hearing was profitable, they would be installing this technology already without being forced.

The cost of these enhancements could be paid for in other ways besides taking money from me.

 
At 8/04/2010 2:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I will keep my outrage over the per-citizen-cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan war or the national debt"

And rightfully so. However, you do realize that some of that national debt is a result of spending YOU have called for at the DOJ Civil Rights Division on ridiculois ADA junk, using money they don't even have.

You can't have it both ways. Don't complain about debt you've requested.

The trouble is that when you add up all these things people think the federal government should do, you get an intolerable level of spending & debt.

The same applies to all those thousands of tiny socialized costs like 12 cents per movie ticket. They add up to a really burdensome load.

You said: - "There has to be common sense..."

Where was that plea when we discussed the Chipotle case?

 
At 8/04/2010 3:04 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"Where was that plea when we discussed the Chipotle case?"

Ron H., don't confuse understanding and agreeing. The Chipotle case was rightly decided according to the explicitly stated purpose in the law that the disabled and non disabled are treated the same. The clown had the stronger hand. In contrast to my objective Chipotle discussion, you are getting my opinion in this posting. Part of working with processes and procedures is in the understanding and dealing with how things are instead of how you want them to be. Common sense often does not put one in the win column.

 
At 8/04/2010 5:47 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Walt G: "Part of working with processes and procedures is in the understanding and dealing with how things are instead of how you want them to be."

I'm sure that millions of people who lived under Soviet oppression heard that same logic from accomodators in every conquered nation. For decades they suffered greatly reduced living standards because they allowed themselves to be controlled by the collectivists.

Only cowards sit back and accept the unending theft of their property by those who would argue "it is rather cheap even though you might have to pay a few pennies for my enjoyment." Screw your enjoyment, you damned Marxist!

 
At 8/04/2010 7:25 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G. said: -

[in my opinion] "The Chipotle case was rightly decided...

...according to the explicitly stated purpose in the law that the disabled and non disabled are treated the same.
"

That can never happen in this world, no matter how hard we try to make it so. We can only approximate.

[in my opinion] The Chipotle case was wrongly decided.

You have ignored my comment that the court had to redefine a counter to make it fall under the ADA guidelines, when it never did before. This is pretty clear from the court ruling you referred to with a link. You did read your own reference, didn't you?

Again, from the ruling, the court also ruled that the District Court erred in judging that the alternative experience offered to Mr. Clown was good enough. In my opinion this reversal was wrong, but obviously in your opinion it was correct.

 
At 8/04/2010 11:09 PM, Blogger randian said...

Why would sight-disabled want to deny almost the entire population the right to make use of technological advancement

For the same reason the wheelchair-bound do: envy. If they must suffer, so must everybody else.

For example, at one time ADA requirements for public transit were considered satisfied by offering wheelchair-bound patrons rides in specially prepared vans. Direct from home to store, no waiting at the bus stop, and no dealing with the diseases and bizarre behavior of your fellow patrons. But no, that wasn't good enough for them. The disabled must have the same (IMO shitty) transit experience everybody else does. Henceforth, just in case somebody in a wheelchair wants a ride every bus must be equipped with a wheelchair lift and valuable seating space must be cleared to accomodate them, at very great expense because 99% of the time no wheelchair is on the bus. Unsurprisingly, the burden of this enormous cost killed the van programs. Advocates for the disabled are to be congratulated for giving the disabled an objectively inferior transit experience at astronomical expense to everybody else.

 
At 8/05/2010 6:56 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H. and Jet Beagle,

I don't have an opinion on the Chipotle "fairness" or common sense decision. I advise my company how to comply with non stupid and stupid rules in the CFR (OSHA, EPA . . .) and other policies so they don't get sued or in trouble with local, state, and federal agencies like Chipotle did. How you do that is to look at the requirements one-by-one and compare them to the intent or purpose of the code or regulation.

If what you are doing meets the requirement and intent, you are OK. If what you are doing meets the intent but not the requirement, you might be OK. If what you are doing does not meet either the intent or the requirement, you either need to comply or hope you don't get caught. If you get caught, you need to be ready to pay. In my personal opinion, the clown had them by the balls because the clearly stated purpose of the ADA is to not discriminate against the disabled and Chipotle did at two of their many locations (“discriminate” means to treat the disabled differently than the non disabled as specifically defined by the ADA code). I'm not telling you what to do, but your very legitimate complaint is with Congress and not the courts here, so you might want to contact them.

Ron H. and Jet Beagle, we could argue all day long about the stupidity of the rules or that they do not make sense, and I agree with you guys on that. And I don't need to answer your question about the 36" counter/wall, Ron H., Chipotle did that by not having one a 45" sight-blocking wall in most of their locations and not discriminating against the disabled at those locations. Remember, what you say or do can be held against you in a court of law. Chipotle did both with their advertisements and actions without covering their ass very well.

Jet Beagle,

My 7-12 cent analysis was an attempt to quantify "outrageous" and place it into an overall U.S. perspective. It was for informational purposes only, and you can do whatever you want with that one. I realize those small amounts add up, but I will use whatever political capital I have on other objectives at this time.

 
At 8/05/2010 8:27 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I left out the part where I have taught a federal EPA and Michigan Mechanical Code class the last 3 years. The students who pass the licensing test read the code and answer the questions following the code. The ones who fail the test either don't put the effort into learning the material or try to fit the code into their idea of what makes sense. Which one would you be?

 
At 8/05/2010 9:34 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Oh this is sad...

Walt G it seems you're part of the problem instead of being part of the solution: "I advise my company how to comply with non stupid and stupid rules in the CFR (OSHA, EPA . . .) and other policies so they don't get sued or in trouble with local, state, and federal agencies like Chipotle did"...

You're an enabler Walt G, you and others like you are enabling the federal government to continue to extort from the productive in order to pander to a supposed downtrodden group and it costs everyone else money out of their pockets...

Total bummer dude!

 
At 8/05/2010 10:04 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Juandos,

I know. I know. Maybe one of these days I will be the guy walking into work in full camo, body armor, and carrying a guitar case with a high-powered rifle inside. But until then . . . .

 
At 9/10/2010 4:18 AM, Blogger kb7uen said...

It always amazes me how collectively stupid the sighted American population really is. Yes there are plenty people who commented here who are sympathic and supportive, however, there are alos way too many morons. You people who do get it don't understand that you have a choice about everything in your lives, whereas blind and visually impaired people have non or are very limited in what they can do when accessing technology. People say those poor sighted students where denied a chance to try a new technology because the blind pushed back through the DOJ. The real reason the Universities were gone after by the NFB and the DOJ was because these studies and Kindles were paid for with federal grant money. That money isn't for just the sighted students, it is for all the students including the blind ones. And that is the reason a descrimination suit was filed. If the universities, I'm not completely sure about that, had paid for the Kindles with their own money, then there wouldn't of been a problem. There is also nothing keeping these students or their parents from buying the KIindles for use in and out of the classroom.

You all have the internet, why do you use it to learn something. There is absolutely no excuse for these kinds comments in 2010. If sighted people really had to deal with even 1% of the issued related to inaccessibility with products, getting around, and there are more but I can't think of them right now. Have any of you stood in the pouring rain trying to get across an intersection while cars keep passing you by and not stopping to let you cross? I have many times, and it's okay for me to be soaking wet so these drivers can shave two seconds off their trip while they sit in a nice warm dry car. That is the kind of selfishness and or total disregard we as blind poeple see everyday. By the way, maybe 1/10th of 1% of the world is inaccessible to you, but for the blind it is in excess of 99%. A blind person can pay the same amount of money for a DVD player, whish may have 25 features which the consumer pays for. The blind person is lucky if they can use 5 of them, so they paid the same price you did but got a whole lot less for their money. When I go shopping for a device, I have to look at pretty much the entire line up just to find something I can use. I don't get to choose based on what I want, but rather what I might be able to use a little bit, and them to do that, I have had to on many occassions pay for a more expensive model than I wanted and had budgetted for. Now that the stores are getting everything in blister packs it is inpossible to actually check out something to see if it is accessible, so I have found myself having to purchase the product before they would open it. Yes I can understand that from a business point of view because it can mean that the store can't sell that product as new or at all. So if it doesn't work, then I have to do a return at the counter and wait for days or longer for my money to be redeposited into my checking account. So in the end the stores are dealing with people choose not to spend a few dallors for a product so they steal it instead, and as a way to address the problem, both the stores can demo product, and the blind customers can see the product without buying it. So both parties are screwed. To all the people who think that stealing everything you get yours hands is cool, if I had my way, you would be locked up for good becuase are costing everyone money.

To the person who thinks Handicapper is a word that should be used today, why don't you look the word up in dictionary, that is if you know what one is, and join the rest of us in 2010 instead of living in 1935. I am not commenting on this because of the dreaded PC crap, but rather because it is so completely insulting to anyone if is directed at.

Gene

 

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