Monday, October 03, 2011

Text-to-Speech for tablets, phones: A.Essential B.Illegal C.Key to better learning D.Death knell (silent?)for audiobooks, textbooks

Conflict of economics, law, pedagogy, politics, ethics?  
Will Amazon's new devices support easy use for those with limited sight or preferences for audio learning?  What about new smart phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops, ...?
Connundrum - Text-to-Speech is:
A.  Essential for the blind  
B.  Illegal, immoral exploitation of authors
C.  Key to better learning for students with learning disabilities
D.  Death knell (silent?) for audiobook & textbook publishers
E.  Gateway to school adoption of eTextbooks
This conflict just heated up with Amazon's intro of the Fire and other Kindle variations.  Expectations for emerging textbook options are soaring again as computing-related gadgets continue to increase in capabilities and decrease in weight and price.  See TLT-SWG: Moore's Law BOTH Prescient AND Prescriptive
Jun 13, 2011
More... quotations, excerpts
"Before getting too fired up about this device, please consider that it does not have the accessibility features needed for use by blind students among others. Because of this concern campuses were successful in lobbying Kindle to make their latest Kindle more accessible. We need to let them know again that accessibility to all students is necessary for universities to adopt this product." - Katherine Schneider, Senior Psychologist, Emerita,  U. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, commenting in "Higher-Ed Gadget-Watchers React to Amazon’s New ‘Kindle Fire’ Tablet," Jeffrey R. Young, The Wired Campus, Chronicle of Higher Ed., September 28, 2011, 3:26 pm

"In fact, publishers, authors and American copyright laws have long provided for free audio availability to the blind and the guild is all for technologies that expand that availability. (The federation, though, points out that blind readers can’t independently use the Kindle 2’s visual, on-screen controls.) But that doesn’t mean Amazon should be able, without copyright-holders’ participation, to pass that service on to everyone." - "The Kindle Swindle?"  ROY BLOUNT Jr., February 24, 2009, New York Times

"Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: 'Blind Americans have repeatedly asked Amazon to include accessibility for the blind in its Kindle product line. The feasibility of including accessibility in similar products has been demonstrated. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice have made it clear that Kindle devices cannot be purchased by educational institutions, libraries, and other entities covered by this country’s disability laws unless the devices are fully accessible. Despite all this, Amazon has released a brand new Kindle device, the Kindle Fire, which cannot be used by people who are blind.'"  - "National Federation of the Blind Condemns Lack of Access to New Kindle Fire" Chris Danielsen, Director of Public Relations, National Federation of the Blind, 9/29/2011

"Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rights holders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is. - "Amazon Backs Off Text-to-Speech Feature in Kindle," BRAD STONE,  New York Times, February 27, 2009, 6:51 PM

Photo of "A glass of water, demonstrating the eternal conundrum of whether the glass is half full or half empty." by Derek Jensen (Tysto), 2005-December-10
"I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.
In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so:  I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law."

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