The lawsuit arose from the university's participation in a pilot program using the Kindle DX, a dedicated device for reading electronic books, or e-books, developed by Amazon.com, Inc. The NFB and ACB alleged that the Kindle DX was inaccessible to blind students and thus violated federal law. ABOR and ASU denied and continue to deny any violations of the law.
The settlement agreement among the parties was reached in light of several factors, including:
(1) ASU's commitment to providing access to all programs and facilities for students with disabilities, including students who are blind or have low vision;
(2) the fact that the pilot program will end in the Spring of 2010;
(3) Amazon and others are making improvements to and progress in the accessibility of e-book readers;
(4) the university's agreement that should ASU deploy e-book readers in future classes over the next two years, it will strive to use devices that are accessible to the blind.
The United States Department of Justice is also a party to the agreement, which does not involve the payment of any damages or attorney's fees or costs.
Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind is pleased with this settlement, which we believe will help to ensure that new technologies create new opportunities for blind students rather than new barriers."
Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind, expressed support by commenting: "I believe this settlement between Arizona State University and the two major national consumer-advocacy organizations of blind and visually impaired persons will encourage the industry to develop fully accessible e-book readers in the near future."