Target: US Federal Communications Commission Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Goal: Reject companies’ petition for exemption for e-readers from federal accessibility laws for people with disabilities.
A group of companies calling themselves the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers, which includes Amazon, Sony, and Kobo, Inc., has recently submitted a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to be considered permanently exempt from regulations in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010, which mandates full accessibility for people with disabilities to all products used for advanced communications services (ACS). This coalition argues that the distinction between an e-reader, a single-function device meant only for reading, and a tablet, which has much broader capability, renders the former exempt from this regulation, and that an attempt to comply “would require fundamentally altering the devices” and increase costs.
However, because e-readers are being touted as educational tools and even offered to schools at discounts to be used as such, they should be made accessible to people with disabilities. The National Federation of the Blind’s director of public relations, Chris Danielsen, commented on the organization’s official stance against the petition: “Make the devices accessible because you have to. They’re not just being used for pleasure reading; they are being used for education. We don’t know what features the market will demand, or what manufacturers will ultimately provide through these devices.”
By signing this petition, you will call on the FCC to enforce the CVAA in order to protect the rights of those with disabilities. You will demonstrate to the Coalition and other technology companies that they do not get to pick and choose which anti-discrimination laws they follow, and that ableism in all industries will not be tolerated. We must take a stand for all of our fellow Americans to be able to enjoy and share in the same communications technologies in this modern era of fast-paced technological advancements.
Dear Eliot Greenwald and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau,
I am alarmed to hear about the petition recently submitted by e-reader manufacturers Amazon, Sony, and Kobo, Inc. regarding their potential exemption from the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). As you well know, this act is meant to protect Americans with disabilities from discrimination in the areas of communications technologies, an extremely fast-moving industry in this era. Awarding these companies the exemption on the basis of the semantic difference between e-readers and tablets sets a dangerous precedent for flouting such anti-discrimination regulation, and this argument ultimately represents an ableist viewpoint that has no place in the twenty-first century.
I am urging you to reject this petition in defense of the rights of people with disabilities to use the same communications technologies as their fellow Americans. Please uphold the CVAA and do not allow these companies to split hairs on this important issue.
[Your Name Here]
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