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Thursday, November 5, 2009

L.A. Public Library suspends purchase of Adobe Digital Edition e-books

The Los Angeles Public Library system announced that it has suspended the purchase of Adobe Digital Editions e-books because the books are not currently accessible to the blind or those with print disabilities. According to an article from the Library Journal, the books were accessible when they were purchased from Overdrive but last spring Adobe updated the software which disabled the text-to-speech functionally. Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive commented on the difficult situation and said that OverDrive has “been persistent in urging Adobe to make accessibility a high priority” and is "working on other avenues should there be no movement from Adobe."

In response to the announcement, Bill McCoy, general manager of Adobe’s ePublishing Business, noted on his blog that Adobe is working on a new version of Digital Editions as well as working with vendors of accessibility software and devices. McCoy commented, “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.”

In the meantime, the National Federation of the Blind will continue to notify others about the accessibility issues. In the press release, Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind commented, “We will continue to inform libraries, universities, and other entities of the inaccessibility of these materials and urge them to comply with accessibility standards and applicable laws by requiring that any e-books they purchase be accessible to those with print disabilities. We will no longer tolerate the gratuitous inaccessibility of e-books; we demand that Americans who cannot read print be treated like first-class citizens and be given access to all of the printed information to which other Americans have access.”

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