Reading Disabilities

Conclusions Montevideo Meeting on WIPO WBU Treaty proposal

On 13-14 May 2009, representatives from 10 Latin American and Caribbean governments, representatives from blind organizations and nongovernmental organizations met in Montevideo (Uruguay) to analyze the World Blind Union (WBU) proposal for a WIPO treaty for the blind, visually impaired and other reading disabled persons.

KEI Statement on Random House decision to turn off text to speech in ebooks

"KEI is disappointed that Random House is turning off text to speech in Kindle 2 ebooks. In a world where access to knowledge is central to everything, Random House certainly understands this action will isolate and marginalize many persons with reading disabilities. Contracts that prohibit the use of assistive technologies like text to speech should not be enforceable."

James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International,

+1 (202) 332 2670,

For more background on this dispute, see:

Soundproof books

I spent a few minutes today on Amazon, to check on reports that some Kindle titles now have text to speech disabled. Among the authors who are “turning off” text to speech in Kindle editions of books are President Obama, Vice President Biden, Toni Morrison, the Pope, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Isaac Asimov, Tom Brokaw, P.D. James, Robert B. Reich, George Will and Ann Coulter, to mention a few.

Kindle 2 vs Reading Disabled Students

Update #2, 15 May: Yesterday, Random House began to disable TTS on books in the Kindle store, which is our primary concern. However, it appears that early reports from the Amazon message boards of remote disabling may have been inaccurate; there have been no confirmed reports of TTS being remotely disabled, and we apologize for any confusion. However, the technology to remotely disable these works does exist, and this remains a significant concern.

Two major points to bear in mind as this story progresses:

KEI submission: Survey on Accessible Books in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Find below a copy of the KEI submission to the U.S. Copyright Office and the USPTO on a survey on accessible books in Spanish-Speaking Countries.

Survey on Accessible Books in Spanish-Speaking Countries

By Judit Rius Sanjuan, Knowledge Ecology International
April 28, 2009

Access to Foreign Works, for reading disabled persons

Today Meredith Filak and I filed comments with the LOC Copyright Office and the USPTO on the importance of access to foreign works for reading disabled persons. A pdf of the comments are on the web here.

The comment is filed with a lot of data, including, for example:

Accessible Versions of 56 Titles Cited by Yochai Benkler in The Wealth of Networks

KEI recently submitted comments to the US Copyright Office regarding the upcoming Treaty for the Blind. One element of those comments was a test of the availability of books in reading-accessible format.

KEI Comments on Accessible Works and Standards

Today I filed my comments to the United States Copyright Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Accessible Works and Standards, a topic related to the provision of access to copyrighted works for blind or other persons with disabilities.

Slideshow: Text to speech in Kindle 2.

On April 7, 2009, the Reading Rights Coalition held a demonstration in front of the Authors Guild in New York City, to protest the Guild's opposition to the text-to-speech feature in Amazon's Kindle 2 e-book reader.

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