Emerging technology clashes with ADA accessibility requirements, as the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education warn colleges and university about requiring classroom use of electronic readers. In an open letter to college and university presidents, the federal departments "express[ed] concern" that some electronic book readers "lack an accessible text-to-speech function," making them inaccessible to students who are blind or have low vision. The letter warns that requiring use of inaccessible readers is discrimination under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act unless disabled students are "provided accommodations or modifications that permit them to receive all the education benefits provided by the technology in an equally effective and equally integrated manner."
The letter comes soon after the DOJ entered into settlement agreements with numerous colleges and universities that participated in a pilot program to use Amazon’s Kindle DX in the classroom. In those agreements, the universities agreed not to require or recommend use of any dedicated electronic book reader unless it is fully accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision, or the universities provide reasonable accommodation to enable student to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use.