Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kindle, Amazon + the FCC: An Update

In my previous post, I talked about what's happening with Kindle, Amazon and the FCC. It seems Amazon would rather be known as a company that is unfriendly to persons with disabilities than to make the simple changes needed.

Although the initiatives from the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries are general to e-readers, they relate more strongly to Kindles because of specific features of Kindles that constitute advanced communications under federal law.

Amazon made changes to the Kindles that make it so certain people with disabilities can't use Kindles. Specifically, Amazon removed a 3.5mm audio jack from its Kindle e-readers, among other changes, which makes the basic Kindles unusable to persons with print disabilities. Federal law requires equipment used for advanced communication services (ACS) be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

The FCC granted a one-year waiver to allow Kindle and others to continue to be available on sale. Now that the waiver is expiring Amazon may be forced by the FCC to upgrade the capabilities of all Kindles to accommodate the needs of the disabled. Amazon is fighting for more waivers and extensions.

The 3.5mm audio jack itself is a ~.05 component that is connected to a signal converter (and not any kind of speaker) that is itself a ~.05 to ~.10 component. The $1.25 cost of the changes is an estimate of Amazon's total cost per unit for design changes (for example an opening must be added to the case where the audio jack will go) and the required components, though the actual cost is more likely closer to .50 per unit.

If these changes aren't made, Amazon may have to remove the contentious features from basic kindles to remain in compliance with federal law.

The American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries are urging Amazon to make these changes. I support the changes and hope you will too in your social media.

E-readers allow those with visual impairments to enjoy printed words they otherwise might not have access to--and just as importantly, in ways they otherwise would not be able to. In the US alone, there are around 7 million people with a visual disability, according to a 2012 report from the National Federation of the Blind.

Without such ready access to printed words in books, newspapers, magazines, and beyond, those with visual impairments must often go without or rely on less tenable means of access.

Thanks for reading,

Robert Stanek

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kindle, Amazon + the FCC: A good day for the disabled ahead?

Don't know how many of you follow what's happening with the Kindle, Amazon, and the FCC. Essentially, in my understanding what happened is Amazon made changes to the Kindles that makes it so certain people with disabilities can't use Kindles. Specifically, Amazon removed a 3.5mm audio jack from its Kindle e-readers, among other changes, which makes the basic Kindles unusable to persons with print disabilities.

Federal law requires equipment used for advanced communication services (ACS) be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

In January, the FCC granted a one-year waiver to allow Kindle and others to continue to be available on sale. The waiver is expiring and it looks like Amazon may be forced by the FCC to upgrade the capabilities of all Kindles to accommodate the needs of the disabled. However, Amazon is fighting for more waivers.

The American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries are among the leading voices urging the changes: ow.ly/EezWn. According to the Opposition to Coalition of E-Reader  Manufacturers' Petition for Waiver (http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/publications/ereader-waiver-opposition-27oct2014.pdf).

What do you think? My .02: Amazon never should have removed such capabilities knowing that the changes would make basic Kindles useless to persons with print disabilities. The audio jack and the related components likely aren't more than $1.25 - $1.75 of cost to produce a Kindle.

The ALA and ARL are urging changes. I support those changes and hope you will too in your social media.

E-readers allow those with visual impairments to enjoy printed words they otherwise might not have access to--and just as importantly, in ways they otherwise would not be able to. In the US alone, there are around 7 million people with a visual disability, according to a 2012 report from the National Federation of the Blind.

Without such ready access to printed words in books, newspapers, magazines, and beyond, those with visual impairments must often go without or rely on less tenable means of access.

Thanks,

Robert Stanek

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veteran's Charity Drive Followup!

A follow up to the previous post. It's release day for "This Mortal Coil. After the Machines" and it's a new series that's been available as a pre-order since August 15. I've been working to spread the word about it for the past week. Normally, I'd be heads down writing, which is what I'm going to go back to after this.



Looks like I had a few additional sales in each of the markets I can get sales data from quickly. Getting sales data from the other markets will take time, for some up to 90 days.

In honor of this event, I'll be donating $200 to each of the veterans-related charities I normally work with. This is on top of what I normally donate annually.

My donations are normally anonymous, but for this event I will donate in my name, as I've done here:



I personally spent most of Monday and Tuesday promoting the event, the authors and books involved, not for my sales but for the opportunity to give back and to help others.

Over all, the Veteran's Day charity drive went well. More than 40 authors participated and raised money for veterans-related charities. Although we didn't reach our goal of $10,000, it looks like we raised about $5000 in total. A pretty great day!

You can read about the participating authors at the Read Indies blog.

Back in the day, I remember spending all day on Veteran's Day marching on parade or slinging burgers in this or that fundraiser. Sometimes there'd be 6, 8 or 10 of us out there all day slinging burgers. By the end of the day, we were sweaty and tired, but we felt good. We'd done something. We'd given back, even if only in a small way.

Thanks for reading,

Robert Stanek