[acb-l] FW: Reed College

Mary Kay Otts <honesty@...>


Below you will find the settlement letter from the Department of Justice to
Reed College relative to the Kindle and other e-book readers. The
settlements with Case Western and Pace Colleges are similar.

Mitch Pomerantz


U.S. Department of Justice

Civil Rights Division

Disability Rights Section - NYA

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Washington. DC 20530.

December 18, 2009

Edward J. Reeves, Esq.

Stoel Rives LLP

900 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 2600

Portland, OR 97204-1268

Re: Letter of Resolution, DJ. No. 202-61-117

Reed College

Dear Mr. Reeves:

As you know, this matter began with complaints filed by the National
Federation of the

Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) with the Department
of Justice, on

behalf of the organizations and their members who are current and
prospective college students,

alleging that Reed College has violated title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990

("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12182, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973, 29 U.S.C. §

947(a), by participating in a pilot program using the Kindle DX, an
innovative, hand-held

electronic book reader that is not accessible to students with visual
impairments, in a classroom

setting. According to the complaints, Reed College is participating in a
pilot program with six

other universities under an agreement with Amazon.com, Inc., that began in
the fall 2009

semester. The object of this pilot program is to test the utility of the
Kindle DX in a classroom


The Department of Justice is responsible for the enforcement and
implementation of titles

II and III of the ADA. The Department decided to investigate this matter
because the Kindle DX

is inaccessible to an entire class of individuals with disabilities -
individuals with visual

impairments. According to its product descriptions, the Kindle DX provides
several benefits that

make it a potentially superior tool to a standard textbook, including the
ability to download all

textbooks instantaneously, the ability to carry all textbooks en a hand-held
device that weighs

just over a pound, the ability to search words and concepts instantly on the
device's web browser,

while retaining 'all the characteristics of a standard text book, such as
annotating, highlighting,

and taking notes. Under title III, blind students must be provided with
"full and equal access" to

all of the goods and services of the college, 28 C.F.R. § 36.201(a); must be
provided with an

equivalent opportunity to participate in and benefit from its goods and
services, 28 C.F.R. §

36.202(a), (b); and, must not be provided different or separate
accommodations unless doing so

is necessary to ensure access to goods and services that is equally as
effective as that provided to

others, 28 C.F.R. 36.202(c).

The Department of Justice remains concerned with the college's future use,
if any, of the

Kindle DX or any other electronic book reader that is not fully accessible
to individuals with

visual impairments after the conclusion of this pilot program. The
Department of Justice and

Reed College have decided that it is in their interest to resolve this
matter amicably. In

consideration of the agreement by Reed College to undertake the actions set
forth below, the

United States will close its investigation of this matter. "

Reed College agrees to the following actions:

1. The College will not purchase a Kindle DX or any other dedicated

electronic book reader for use by students in its classes, curricula, or

programs unless or until such electronic book reader is fully accessible to

individuals with visual impairments or Reed provides reasonable

accommodation or modification for this type of technology to individuals

needing such accommodation or modification due to visual impairments.

2. The College will not require, recommend, or promote use of the Kindle

DX or any other dedicated electronic book reader by students in classes,

curricula, or other programs unless or until the device is fully accessible

students with visual impairments or it provides reasonable accommodation

or modification for this type of technology to its students with visual


3. The phrase "other dedicated electronic book reader" means any wireless,

hand-held, dedicated electronic book reader that has been or will in the

future be produced or offered by Amazon.com or any other corporation,

such as but not limited" to the Barnes and Noble nook, the Sony PRS-600,

PRS-700, PRS 505 or upcoming Sony Daily Edition, and others.

4. An electronic book reader will be considered fully accessible to

individuals with visual impairments if all uses of the device that are

available to individuals without disabilities are available to individuals

with visual impairments in a manner, which ensures that its use the college

setting is equally as effective for individuals with visual impairments as

is for others.

5. "Reed College will commit a policy reflecting the terms of this agreement

to writing within 30 days of the date of the last signature below.

6. Reed College agrees that its commitments in paragraphs 1-5, herein, will

take effect on the date following the last day of the pilot project with

Amazon.com, Inc., which will terminate no later than the conclusion of the

spring 2010 semester.

7. As used in this agreement, reasonable accommodation or modification

shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, which takes into consideration

the needs of the student with a visual impairment. In addition, Reed will

be informed by the factors listed in subparagraphs A. 1-3 and B. in

determining the accommodation or modification.

A. Students with visual impairments should be able to --

1) Access and acquire the same information,

2) Engage in the same interactions, and

3) Enjoy the same services as sighted students.

B. Students with visual impairments should enjoy ease of use that is

Substantially equivalent to that provided to sighted students.

This agreement does not constitute a finding by the United States that Reed
is in full

Compliance with the ADA, nor an admission by Reed College of fault or
noncompliance with the


The decision to close our file in this matter does not affect the rights of

Individuals or of the complainants to enforce their rights under the ADA
against Reed College.

As indicated in paragraph 6, above, this agreement also has no effect on
Reed College's current

pilot program testing the Kindle DX. This agreement also is not intended to
preclude other pilot

programs or product testing designed to evaluate the features, including
accessibility features, of

new technologies so long as reasonable accommodation or modification is

Please countersign and return a copy of this letter to us, indicating your
agreement with

the representations and terms set forth herein. Once we have received your
countersigned copy,

we will consider this matter resolved. We will take no further action on
this matter unless we

become aware of new information suggesting that Reed is not complying with
its obligations

under the ADA or this agreement.

We appreciate your cooperation. If you have questions or concerns regarding

agreement, please do not hesitate to contact the Department.



Assistant Attorney General

Civil Rights Division


Deputy Assistant Attorney General


Chief, Disability Rights Section


Deputy Chief



Disability Rights Section

Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice

Tel: (202) 514-8301

Fax: (202) 305-9775




Counsel for Reed College

Stoel Rives LLP

900 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 2600

Portland, OR 97204-1268

Tel: (503) 294-9260

Fax: (503) 220-2480

Ms. Theo Thomas

Legal Assistant

Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP

120 E. Baltimore Street

Suite 1700

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Direct: 443-923-1325

Main: 410-962-1030

Fax: 410-385-0869

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