Resolution 2011-3 Regarding Electronic Readers Supplied By Public Libraries


WHEREAS, the purpose of public libraries is to provide access to information for self-education to all segments of the population; and

WHEREAS, blind persons have the same rights to information access as other members of society; and

WHEREAS, public libraries in Maryland, including the Howard County Library System and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, are beginning to lend electronic readers such as the Nook to patrons so that they may access e-books and other electronic information; and

WHEREAS, many of these electronic readers and their content delivery systems cannot be used by blind persons because of inaccessible features, thus, depriving blind persons of access to information; and

WHEREAS, nonvisually accessible electronic readers are available, demonstrating that manufacturers can provide accessible products if they choose or are required to do so; and

WHEREAS, the denial of access is not only an act of discrimination perpetrated by manufacturers, but also is an act of discrimination perpetrated by the libraries that purchased these products; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Irene Padilla, the State Librarian, as Director of the Division of Library Development and Services, Maryland State Department of Education, is responsible for ensuring that public libraries throughout the state are free of discriminatory policies and practices; and

WHEREAS, we have learned that when contracts for procurement include requirements for nonvisual access, manufacturers will build accessible products simply because it is good business practice to comply with customer requirements; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by  the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this thirtieth day of October, 2011, in the city of Ocean City, Maryland, that this organization strongly urge directors of public libraries and entities that oversee them to include nonvisual access criteria in all procurement requirements and purchasing agreements; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization insist that public libraries work with the National Federation of the Blind in order to gain a thorough understanding of which electronic readers and content delivery systems are truly accessible; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization strongly urge the State Librarian to exert her authority and influence to ensure that libraries provide access to information to all citizens in Maryland, including those who are blind.