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Amazon and Sony Are Requesting That The Accessibility Requirement Be Waived for E-Book Readers

Category: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alena Roberts Monday, 05-Aug-2013 8:38 PM ET

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The ) Twenty-First Century Communications and Video ) Accessibility Act of 2010 requires companies who make electronic devices to make them accessible to people with disabilities. At this time, none of the Ebook readers that are on the market meet this requirement. Since many companies feel that this requirement should not apply to Ebook readers, Amazon, Kobo, and Sony have submitted a petition to the FCC asking for a waiver. According to the petition, this is the definition of an Ebook reader: "E-readers, sometimes called e-book readers, are mobile electronic devices that are designed, marketed and used primarily for the purpose of reading digital documents, including e-books and periodicals." Since Ebook readers are primarily designed for print reading, the companies are arguing that the disabled community would not significantly benefit from these devices becoming accessible. They also argue that because the devices are so simple, making the changes to the devices to make them accessible, would cause them to be heavier, have poorer battery life, and raise the cost of the devices. Finally, these companies argue that since their apps are accessible on other devices such as the iPad and other full featured tablets, that they are already providing access to their content. We've posted the complete filing from the FCC's website below. Here is a link to the original .PDF

Before the
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
 )
Implementation of Sections 716 and 717 of the ) CG Docket No. 10-213
Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the )
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video )
Accessibility Act of 2010 )
 )
 )
Petition for Waiver of Sections 716 and 717 )
of the Communications Act and Part 14 of the )
Commission’s Rules Requiring Access to )
Advanced Communications Services (ACS) and )
Equipment by People with Disabilities )
To: Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
COALITION OF E-READER MANUFACTURERS
PETITION FOR WAIVER
Gerard J. Waldron
Daniel H. Kahn
COVINGTON & BURLING LLP
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20004-2401
(202) 662-6000
Counsel for the Coalition of E-Reader
Manufacturers
May 16, 2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY ...............................................................................
1
II. E-READERS ARE A DISTINCT CLASS OF EQUIPMENT ...........................................
2
III. E-READERS ARE USED PRIMARILY FOR READING ...............................................
3
A. E-Readers Are Designed and Marketed for Reading ..............................................
4
B. E-Readers Are Not Designed or Marketed for ACS ...............................................
6
IV. THE REQUESTED WAIVER WILL ADVANCE THE PUBLIC INTEREST ................
8
Before the
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
 )
Implementation of Sections 716 and 717 of the ) CG Docket No. 10-213
Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the )
Twenty-First Century Communications and Video )
Accessibility Act of 2010 )
 )
 )
Petition for Waiver of Sections 716 and 717 )
of the Communications Act and Part 14 of the )
Commission’s Rules Requiring Access to )
Advanced Communications Services (ACS) and )
Equipment by People with Disabilities )
To: Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
PETITION FOR WAIVER
I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
 Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 617(h)(1) and 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 14.5, the Coalition of E-Reader
Manufacturers
1
 (hereinafter, “Coalition”) respectfully requests that the Commission waive the
accessibility requirements for equipment used for advanced communications services
(ACS) for
a single class of equipment: e-readers. This Petition demonstrates that e-readers
are devices
designed, built, and marketed for a single primary purpose: to read written material
such as
books, magazines, newspapers, and other text documents on a mobile electronic device.
The
public interest would be served by granting this petition because the theoretical
ACS ability of e-
readers is irrelevant to how the overwhelming majority of users actually use the
devices.
Moreover, the features and content available on e-readers are available on a wide
range of multi-
1 The Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers consists of Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo Inc.;
and Sony Electronics Inc.
purpose equipment, including tablets, phones, and computers, all of which possess
integrated
audio, speakers, high computing processing power, and applications that are optimized
for ACS.
 As explained below, e-readers are a distinct class of equipment built for the specific
purpose of reading. They are designed with special features optimized for the reading
experience and are marketed as devices for reading. Although they have a similar
shape and size
to general-purpose tablet computers, e-readers lack many of tablets’ features for
general-purpose
computing, including ACS functions. E-readers simply are not designed, built, or
marketed for
ACS, and the public understands the distinction between e-readers and general-purpose
tablets.
Granting the petition is in the public interest because rendering ACS accessible
on e-readers
would require fundamentally altering the devices to be more like general-purpose
tablets in cost,
form factor, weight, user interface, and reduced battery life, and yet the necessary
changes, if
they were made, would not yield a meaningful benefit to individuals with disabilities.
II. E-READERS ARE A DISTINCT CLASS OF EQUIPMENT
 The Commission requires that a class waiver be applicable to a “carefully defined”
class
of devices that “share common defining characteristics.”
2
 E-readers are such a class. E-readers,
sometimes called e-book readers, are mobile electronic devices that are designed,
marketed and
used primarily for the purpose of reading digital documents, including e-books and
periodicals.
3
 The noteworthy features of e-readers include electronic ink screens optimized for
reading
2 14 C.F.R. § 14.5(b); Implementation of Sections 716 and 717 of the Communications
Act of 1934, as Enacted by
the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, CG Docket
No. 10-213, WT
Docket No. 96-168, CG Docket No. 10-145, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 26 FCC
Rcd 14557, 14639 (2011) [hereinafter ACS Report and Order]; Implementation of Sections
716 and 717 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility
Act of 2010, CEA, NCTA, ESA, Petitions for Class Waivers of Sections 716 and 717
of the Communications Act
and Part 14 of the Commission’s Rules Requiring Access to Advanced Communications
Services (ACS) and
Equipment by People with Disabilities, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 12970, 12973 (2012) [hereinafter
Waiver Order].
3 “An e-reader is an electronic reading device used to view books, magazines, and
newspapers in a digital format.”
What is an E-Reader?, wiseGEEK,
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-an-E-reader.htm
 (last visited May 16, 2013).
(including in direct sunlight) and designed to minimize eye strain during extended
reading
sessions. They also facilitate acquisition of e-publications and their user interfaces,
both
hardware and software features, are designed around reading as the primary user function.
As
explained more fully below, another important aspect of e-readers is the features
they do not
contain, which distinguishes them from general purpose devices such as tablets. Examples
of e-
readers include the Amazon Kindle E-Reader, the Sony Reader, and the Kobo Glo.
 In 2006, Sony launched the first e-reader available in the U.S. utilizing electronic
ink, and
since that time the number of manufacturers and models has expanded substantially.
4
 Seven
years is a long time in the modern digital age, and the public understands that although
e-readers
may be somewhat similar in shape and size to general-purpose tablets, e-readers are
aimed at a
specific function.
5
 The distinctions between e-readers and tablets are explored next.
4 Michael Sauers, History of eBooks & eReaders, Technology Innovation Librarian,
Nebraska Library Commission,
(Oct. 14, 2011),
http://www.slideshare.net/nebraskaccess/history-of-e-books-ereaders
.
5 Product buying guides commonly reflect this distinction. See, e.g., Brian Barrett,
5 Ways Ereaders Are Still Better
Than Tablets, Gizmodo (Dec. 12, 2012),
http://gizmodo.com/5970460/5-ways-ereaders-are-still-better-than-tablets
;
Paul Reynolds, 5 Reasons to Buck the Tide and Buy an E-book Reader, ConsumerReports.org
(Apr. 22, 2013),
http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2013/04/5-reasons-to-buck-the-tide-and-buy-an-e-book-reader.html
.
Wikipedia, an aggregator of knowledge and therefore a useful measure of conventional
understanding, differentiates
e-readers from tablets, explaining that, among other differences, “[t]ablet computers
. . . are more versatile, allowing
one to consume multiple types of content . . . .” It states that “[a]n e-book reader,
also called an e-book device or e-
reader, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose
of reading digital e-books and
periodicals.” Wikipedia, E-Book Reader,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-reader
 (last visited May 16, 2013).
6 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(a)(ii).
III. E-READERS ARE USED PRIMARILY FOR READING
 E-readers are “designed primarily for purposes other than using” ACS.
6
 Specifically,
they are designed to be used for reading. Moreover, they are marketed as tools for
reading, and
reading is their predominant use. Conversely, e-readers are not designed or marketed
as tools for
using ACS.
A. E-Readers Are Designed and Marketed for Reading
 In contrast to general-purpose tablets, the features in e-readers are designed and
built
around reading as the primary function. Features that e-readers possess for reading
optimization
include:
• Screens optimized to reduce eyestrain and prevent glare;
7
• Low power consumption and extremely long battery life to facilitate long reading
sessions and use during extended travel;
8
• Navigation that place reading features, including e-publication acquisition, front
and center;
9
 and
• Built-in reading tools such as highlighting, bookmarking, and lookup features.
10
7 See Dr. Shirley Blanc, E-readers: Better for Your Eyes?, Medcan Clinic,
http://www.medcan.com/articles/e-
readers_better_for_your_eyes/
(last visited May 16, 2013) (“E-readers have improved the level of text/background
contrast, and the matte quality of the screen can reduce glare even in bright sunlight.”).
8 See Greg Bensinger, The E-Reader Revolution: Over Just as It Has Begun?, Wall St.
J., Jan. 4, 2013,
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323874204578219834160573010.html
 (stating that compared to
tablets, “dedicated e-readers have . . . a different style of display [that] improves
their battery life”).
9 See John P. Falcone, Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad: Which E-book Reader Should You Buy?,
CNET (Dec. 17, 2012),
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20009738-1/kindle-vs-nook-vs-ipad-which-e-book-reader-should-you-buy/
 (noting that an advantage of e-readers is fewer distracting features not focused
on reading).
10 See Levy Smith, Using a Kindle or eReader as a Leadership Tool (Sept. 13, 2010),
http://www.itsworthnoting.com/productivity/using-a-kindle-or-ereader-as-a-leadership-tool/
 (“With an eReader, you
can effortlessly highlight and comment as you read and either share quotes or musings
real time. . . .”).
11 Falcone, supra note
9
.
12 See Barrett, supra note
5
.
 Product reviews emphasize the centrality of reading to the design of e-readers.
For
instance, technology review site CNET explains that “[i]f you want to stick with
‘just reading’ . .
. an e-ink reader is probably your best bet.”
11
 Similarly, popular technology blog Gizmodo
explains that e-readers “do one thing well . . . reading. And that’s a blessing.”
12
 Consistent with these features, e-readers are marketed to readers with one activity
in
mind: reading. For example, on the Amazon product listing for the 5th generation
Kindle E-
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
Reader, all nine bullets at the top of the page describing the device contain phrases
referring to
books or reading, including “lighter than a paperback,” “for easier reading,” “[r]eads
like paper,”
“[d]ownload books,” “[h]olds over 1,000 books,” “[m]assive book selection,” “books
by best-
selling authors,” “[s]upports children’s books,” and “[l]ending [l]ibrary.”
13 Amazon Kindle 5th Generation E-Ink Product Listing,
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007HCCNJU/
 (last
visited May 16, 2013).
14 Id.
15 Kobo Aura HD Overview,
http://www.kobo.com/koboaurahd
 (last visited May 16, 2013).
16 Sony Reader,
https://ebookstore.sony.com/reader/
 (last visited May 16, 2013).
17 Sony Reader Product Listing,
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-
1&identifier=S_Portable_Reader
 (last visited May 16, 2013).
18 Ofcom, Communications Market Report 2012, at 7 (July 18, 2012),
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr12/CMR_UK_2012.pdf
.
 Not surprisingly based on this design and marketing, e-readers are used overwhelmingly
for reading. An Ofcom analysis on the communications marketplace in the U.K. states
that
“almost all consumers use their e-reader to read books.”
18
 Indicative of the utility of e-readers
for reading, multiple studies show that reading electronically on an e-reader increases
the amount
of time individuals spend reading.
for reading, multiple studies show that reading electronically on an e-reader increases
the amount
of time individuals spend reading.
for reading, multiple studies show that reading electronically on an e-reader increases
the amount
of time individuals spend reading.
19 See id. (“E-readers have a positive impact on the amount people read.”); Lee Rainie
et al., Pew Internet &
American Life Project, The Rise of E-Reading, Apr. 4, 2012,
http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/04/04/the-rise-of-
e-reading/
 (“On any given day 56% of those who own e-book reading devices are reading a book,
compared with
45% of the general book-reading public who are reading a book on a typical day.”);
Geoffrey A. Fowler & Marie C.
Baca, The ABCs of E-Reading, Wall St. J., Aug. 24, 2010,
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703846604575448093175758872.html
 (explaining that a study of
1,200 e-reader owners by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. concludes that “[p]eople
who buy e-readers tend
to spend more time than ever with their nose in a book.”).
20 Bensinger, supra note
8
.
21 Piotr Kowalczyk, These 12 Questions Will Help You Choose Between Tablet and E-reader,
eBook Friendly (Apr.
8, 2013),
 http://ebookfriendly.com/2013/04/08/tablet-or-ereader-questionnaire/
 (“E-paper screens are not meant for
active usage – their refresh rate is too low.”).
22 Bensinger, supra note
8
 (stating that, unlike e-readers, “ever cheaper tablet computers can be used . .
. as Web
browsers, game consoles and cameras”).
23 See, e.g., Kindle 5th Generation E-Ink, supra note
13
 (comparing hard drive capacities of Kindle e-reader versus
tablet devices).
24 See, e.g., id.
B. E-Readers Are Not Designed or Marketed for ACS
 E-readers are not general-purpose devices and lack the features and broad capabilities
of
tablets. Instead, as discussed above, they are optimized only for reading and obtaining
reading
material. Features common to tablets that e-readers consistently lack include:
• Color screens;
20
• Screens with fast refresh rates sufficient for interaction and video;
21
• Cameras;
22
• High-capacity storage sufficient for multimedia files;
23
 and
• Higher-powered CPU processors and GPU processors for accelerated graphics.
24
Additionally, e-readers typically do not possess microphones or quality speakers.
 Examination of an e-reader establishes that these devices are not designed with
ACS as
an intended feature, even on a secondary basis. These purposeful hardware limitations
drive e-
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
readers’ primary purpose: reading. As a result, e-readers cannot display videos at
an acceptable
quality, and most cannot generate audio output or record audio input.
25 Staples, Tablet Versus eReader,
http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/technology-research-
centers/tablets/tablets-versus-ereaders.html
 (last visited May 16, 2013) (“Tablets give you far more options for
multimedia as well. They can upload and play audio and of course video . . . .”).
26 See, e.g., Kowalczyk, supra note
21
 (“You can use [tablets] for other [non-reading] purposes, like emails, social
media, web browsing, video, games.”).
27 Bensinger, supra note
8
 (stating that e-readers have “more-limited capabilities, which often include monochrome
screens and rudimentary Web surfing” while “[t]ablet computers . . . have . . . full
Web browsing.”).
28 See, e.g., Kindle 5th Generation E-Ink, supra note
13
; Kobo Aura HD, supra note
15
; Sony Reader Product
Listing, supra note
17
. Kindle e-readers offer a feature by which users and their pre-approved contacts
can e-mail
pre-existing document so that the documents can be read on the Kindle. However, this
is a feature to facilitate
reading of pre-existing documents in an E-Ink format; it is not marketed as or useful
as a tool for real-time or near
real-time text-based communication between individuals. See Kindle 5th Generation
E-Ink, supra note
13
.
 E-readers are not marketed based on their ability to access ACS. The webpage listings
for e-readers do not mention or describe any ACS features such as e-mail, instant
messaging,
calling, VoIP, or interoperable video conferencing (or video at all).
28
 That is consistent with the
fact that e-readers are marketed as devices for reading, not for general-purpose
use. In fact,
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
many view the absence of robust communication tools on e-readers as a welcome break
from
distraction rather than as a limitation. For instance, Paul Reynolds of Consumer
Reports
explains that “I read with fewer interruptions (so more rapidly) on a reader--since
I can’t as
easily distract myself by checking e-mail or news headlines with a tap or two.”
29 Reynolds, supra note
5
.
30 Falcone, supra note
9
. Another reviewer states, “I’m not interested in the tablet e-readers; I want a
dedicated
reading device without the distraction of Twitter or games or email. I want the contrast
and readability of e Ink. I
want access to the best and most varied content. I want a battery life the length
of War and Peace (months). I want a
device that is light in the hand . . . .” Laura Jane, This is My Next: Kindle Paperwhite,
The Verge (Sept. 6, 2012),
http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/6/3298500/this-is-my-next-kindle-paperwhite
.
31 John Cook, Kobo Opens a New Chapter, Introduces ‘Touch’ To E-reader, Geekwire
(May 23, 2011),
http://www.geekwire.com/2011/chapter-electronic-readers-kobo-introduces-touch-electronic-readers/
.
IV. THE REQUESTED WAIVER WILL ADVANCE THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Rendering ACS accessible on e-readers would require fundamentally altering the devices
and it may not be possible to meet that requirement and maintain e-readers as inexpensive
mobile reading devices, and yet the necessary changes, if they were made, would not
yield a
meaningful benefit to individuals with disabilities. As described above, e-readers
are not
designed to provide ACS features and applications. Any consumer who uses a browser
on an e-
reader to access ACS would have a very low-quality experience. Rendering ACS accessible
for
disabled persons on e-readers would impose substantial and ongoing engineering, hardware,
and
licensing costs because the devices would first have to be redesigned and optimized
for ACS. It
would be necessary to add hardware such as speakers, more powerful processors, and
faster-
refreshing screens. It also would be necessary to revise the software interface in
e-readers to
build in infrastructure for ACS and then render that infrastructure accessible. In
short, the
mandate would be to convert e-readers into something they are not: a general purpose
device.
 It is not merely cost but the very nature of a specialized e-reader device that
is at issue.
Adding a substantial range of hardware and new software changes the fundamental nature
of e-
reader devices. A requirement to make these changes would alter the devices’ form
factor,
weight, and battery life and could undercut the distinctive features, advantages,
price point, and
viability of e-readers. In particular, the higher power consumption necessary to
support a faster
refresh rate necessary for high-interaction activities such as email would put e-reader
power
consumption on par with that of a tablet, whereas today the lower power consumption
and
resulting far-longer battery life of e-readers is a key selling point.
 As a result of all of these changes, e-readers would be far more similar to general-purpose
tablets in design, features, battery life, and cost, possibly rendering single-purpose
devices
redundant. Today, many Americans choose to own both a tablet and an e-reader. According
to a
recent Pew study, as of November 2012, 19% of Americans age 16 and older own an e-reader,
25% own a tablet, and 11% own both an e-reader and a tablet.
32
 Consistent with this purchasing
pattern, Gizmodo warns its readers, “don’t assume that because you have [a tablet],
you don’t
32 Lee Rainie & Maeve Duggan, E-book Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines,
Pew Internet & American
Life Project, Dec. 27, 2012,
http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/12/27/e-book-reading-jumps-print-book-reading-
declines/
.
need [an e-reader].”
need [an e-reader].”
need [an e-reader].”
need [an e-reader].”
need [an e-reader].”
need [an e-reader].”
need [an e-reader].”
33 Barrett, supra note
5
. As explained below, this quote does not apply to individuals who are blind or have
low
vision, for whom e-readers do not provide additional functionality that is not available
from a more versatile
smartphone or tablet.
34 Innovations developed for e-readers in recent years include that “[t]he devices
looked sleeker, they were easier to
read, they weighed less, their pages turned faster, and they held more books. Wireless
capability allowed users to
download novels, magazines and newspapers wherever they were, whenever they wanted,
and now the devices
allow for reading in the dark.” Bensinger, supra note
8
. More recently, “[t]here have also been major improvements
in e-readers, including touch-screen technology and self-lighting screens.” Id.
35 The Commission has recognized that “if the inclusion of an accessibility feature
in a product or service results in a
fundamental alteration of that product or service, then it is per se not achievable
to include that accessibility
function.” ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14610. The House Report similarly
states that “if the inclusion
of a feature in a product or service results in a fundamental alteration of that
service or product, it is per se not
achievable to include that feature.” H.R. Rep. No. 111-563, at 24-25 (2010) (“House
Report”). While the
achievability and primary purpose waiver analyses differ, this demonstrates that
Congress and the Commission
recognize that requiring a fundamental alteration is not in the public interest or
consistent with the CVAA.
36 House Report at 26; S. Rep. No. 111-386, at 8 (2010).
 In enacting the CVAA, Congress did not intend to mandate the effective elimination
of a
niche product primarily designed for non-ACS uses merely because of the presence
of an
ancillary browser purpose-built to support reading activities on some devices within
the class.
As both the Senate and House Reports explained in describing the primary purpose
waiver
provision embodied in Section 716(h), “[f]or example, a device designed for a purpose
unrelated
to accessing advanced communications might also provide, on an incidental basis,
access to such
services. In this case, the Commission may find that to promote technological innovation
the
accessibility requirements need not apply.”
36
 The example of e-readers is just the “incidental
basis” ACS that Congress intended for the waiver provision to encompass.
 Finally, rendering e-readers accessible would not substantially benefit individuals
with
disabilities. Persons with disabilities, including individuals who are blind and
wish to access e-
books and other electronic publications, would have a poor ACS experience even on
accessible
e-reader devices. Because of the inherent limitations of browsers in e-readers, a
fact that will not
change without a wholesale redesign of e-readers, the ACS experience on such devices
is
suboptimal whether a user has disabilities or not.
 Further, individuals with disabilities have accessible options today, and these
options will
soon expand significantly even if the waiver is granted. For the niche purpose of
reading, high-
quality free alternatives to e-readers are available. The free Kindle Reading, Sony
Reader, and
Kobo eReading apps, which provide access to the same range of e-publications available
to the
owners of the respective companies’ e-readers (and in some cases a greater range),
are available
for free on an array of mobile phones, tablets, PCs, and Macs.
37
 Makers of tablets, smartphones,
and computers are working actively to make their general-purpose audio-enabled devices
accessible, consistent with the CVAA. As required by the CVAA, ACS will be accessible
on
these devices, all of which have integrated audio, speakers, high computing processing
power,
and applications that are optimized for ACS. Moreover, the accessibility that is
required by the
CVAA will ensure that many of the “layers” of these devices will support and provide
accessibility features and capabilities that are of value beyond the purely ACS context.
38
 Put
simply, individuals with disabilities have better ACS options on devices other than
e-readers.
37 Falcone, supra note
9
. Additionally, users can read books via the Web on all of the services but Sony
Reader. Id.
38 See ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14584-85 (identifying eight key “layers”
of devices and explaining
that “[f]or individuals with disabilities to use an advanced communications service,
all of these components may
have to support accessibility features and capabilities”).
 A waiver of the Commission’s rule is justified because, in contrast to other classes
of
equipment for which temporary waivers have been granted, e-readers are a well-established
class
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
that is not experiencing “convergence” toward becoming a multipurpose device.
39 Cf. Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12977-78, 12981, 12990-91 (describing possibility
of convergence in classes of
devices for which waivers were granted).
40 Moreover, it is generally expected that demand for e-readers will continue well
into the future. One study by the
Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute projects 23.0 million units of e-reader
sales worldwide in 2016. See
eMarketer, Ereader Shipments on the Rise (Nov. 8, 2012),
http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Ereader-Shipments-
on-Rise/1009471
. A different study by IHS iSuppli projects worldwide sales of e-readers at 7.1 million
units in
2016. See Barrett, supra note
5
. Assessing the more pessimistic of these studies, Gizmodo concludes that e-readers
are “great, they’re cheap, and they're not going anywhere.” Id.
41 Accordingly, a waiver that extends across multiple generations is justified. See
ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC
Rcd at 14640.
* * *
 For the reasons set forth above, and consistent with Section 716 of the Act and
the
Commission’s rules, the Coalition requests that the Commission grant the e-reader
class waiver,
as is consistent with the public interest.
Respectfully submitted,
Gerard J. Waldron
Daniel H. Kahn
COVINGTON & BURLING LLP
1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20004-2401
(202) 662-6000
Counsel for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo Inc.;
and Sony Electronics Inc.
May 16, 2013

Comments

Displaying 3 comments.
jcast Monday, 05-Aug-2013 11:53 PM ET:

To me, there seems to be no excuse for leave accessibility out of these devices. The claim that incorporating accessibility will make the e-book readers heavier and have less battery life is utterly ridiculous. There are so many examples of accessible mobile devices these days which work perfectly and for which accessibility is transparent or not even known to those not needing it. Amazon and Sony, do what you wish, but your actions will reflect equally on you.


jcast Tuesday, 06-Aug-2013 2:25 PM ET:


blindninja22 Thursday, 08-Aug-2013 11:21 AM ET:

I am a totally blind bookworm and I also disagree with the statements that adding accessibility would be more costly and result in less battery life. I would also add that we blind people are already relegated to Ebook readers that have been built and designd specifically with the blind in mind. These players are rather expensive, but bottom line is that, once again, we are being shoved into the background. I don't think Amazon or Sony have any room to complain since they have never made their Ebook readers accessible. Amazon, do as you like, but your reputation will be damaged if this waver is granted.


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