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Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers' Petition for Waiver of ACS Rules

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Released: January 28, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-95

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
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Accessibility Act of 2010
)
)
)

Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers’
)
Petition for Class 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
)
)

ORDER

Adopted: January 28, 2014

Released: January 28, 2014

By the Acting Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) of the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC or Commission) grants a waiver from the Commission’s advanced communications
services (ACS) accessibility rules1 to a distinct, narrow class of e-readers.2 Although capable of accessing
ACS (such as e-mail), we conclude that this narrow class of e-readers is designed primarily for reading
text-based digital works, not for ACS. Given the swift pace at which technologies are evolving and the
expanding role of ACS in electronic devices, the waiver will expire on January 28, 2015.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
On October 8, 2010, President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) into law.3 One year later, on October 7, 2011, the
Commission adopted a Report and Order implementing section 716 of the Act,4 which was added by the

1 47 C.F.R. Part 14.
2 CGB takes this action pursuant to its delegated authority. See 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; Amendments to the Commission’s Rules Implementing Sections 255 and 251(a)(2) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as Enacted by the Telecommunications Act of 1966; Accessible Mobile Phone Options for People who
are Blind, Deaf-Blind, or Have Low Vision
, CG Docket No. 10-213, WT Docket No. 96-198, CG Docket No. 10-
145, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 14557, 14566, 14640-14641, ¶¶
19, 197 (2011) (ACS Report and Order) (delegating to CGB the authority to act upon all waiver requests).
3 Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751 (2010), amended by Pub. L. No. 111-265, 124 Stat. 2795 (2010) (making
technical corrections).
4 47 U.S.C. § 617.

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CVAA and has required ACS and equipment used for ACS5 to be accessible to and usable by individuals
with disabilities, if achievable, since October 8, 2013.6 The Commission also adopted rules to implement
the recordkeeping and enforcement provisions of section 717 of the Act,7 which apply to entities that are
subject to sections 255, 716, and 718 of the Act.8
3.
Pursuant to section 716(h)(1) of the Act,9 the Commission may grant waivers of the ACS
requirements for multipurpose equipment or services or classes of multipurpose equipment or services
that are capable of accessing ACS, but are nonetheless designed primarily for purposes other than using
ACS.10 In instances where equipment and services may have multiple primary or co-primary purposes,
waivers may not be warranted.11 In conducting a waiver analysis, the rules provide for a case-by-case
examination of whether the equipment is marketed for its ACS features or functions.12 In order to make
this determination, the Commission must consider “whether the ACS functionality or feature is suggested
to consumers as a reason for purchasing, installing, downloading, or accessing the equipment or
service.”13 The Commission may also consider the manufacturer’s market research and the usage trends
of similar equipment or services in order to determine whether a manufacturer or provider designed the
equipment or service primarily for purposes other than ACS.14 The following factors may be relevant to a
primary purpose waiver determination: whether the ACS functionality is designed to be operable outside
of other functions or aids other functions; the impact that the removal of the ACS feature has on the
primary purpose for which the equipment or services is claimed to be designed; and an examination of
waivers for similar products or services.15 In addition to considering these various factors when
examining a waiver request, the Commission must utilize its general waiver standard, which requires

5 ACS is defined as interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service; non-interconnected VoIP service;
electronic messaging service, such as e-mail, instant messaging, and SMS text messaging; and interoperable video
conferencing service. 47 U.S.C. § 153(1); 47 C.F.R. § 14.10(c).
6ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 14557. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.20. Specifically, the ACS rules apply to
models or versions of products and services that are introduced into the market or upgraded on or after October 8,
2013. ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14609, ¶¶ 124-125.
7 47 U.S.C. § 618.
8 47 U.S.C. §§ 255, 617 and 619. See ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14650-14677, ¶¶ 219-278.
9 47 U.S.C. § 617(h).
10 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14634, ¶ 181. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5.
11 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14635, ¶ 184 (offering as an example of equipment or services that have
multiple primary or co-primary purposes, smartphones that are designed for voice communications, text messaging,
e-mail, web browsing, video chat, digital video recording, mobile hotspot connectivity, and several other purposes).
In other words, multipurpose equipment or services that are capable of accessing ACS and are designed primarily or
co-primarily for ACS, do not qualify for a waiver under this provision. 47 U.S.C. § 617(h)(1); 47 C.F.R. §
14.5(a)(1). A product or service may have co-primary purposes when it contains multiple features and functions.
Conversely, as noted in the ACS Report and Order, the House and Senate Reports explain that “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.” ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14634, ¶ 181, citing H.R. Rep. No. 111-563
at 26 (2010) (House Report); S. Rep. No. 111-386 at 8 (2010) (Senate Report).
12 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14634, 14640, ¶¶ 182, 196. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(a)(2)(ii).
13 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14635, ¶ 185 (footnote omitted).
14 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14635, ¶ 183.
15 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14636, ¶186.
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good cause to waive the rules, and a showing that the particular facts of the petition make compliance
with the relevant requirements inconsistent with the public interest.16
4.
The Commission may entertain a waiver for equipment and services individually or as a
class, and may limit the time of its coverage, with or without a provision for renewal.17 The Commission
will exercise its authority to grant class waivers, which apply to more than one piece of equipment or
more than one service, in instances in which classes are carefully defined and the equipment or services
share common defining characteristics.18 In addition, the Commission will examine the extent to which
the petitioner has explained in detail the expected lifecycle of the equipment or services that are part of
the class.19 Substantial upgrades are considered new products or services for the purpose of this waiver
analysis.20 For products and services already under development after a class waiver expires, the
achievability analysis may take into consideration the developmental stage of the product and the effort
and expense needed to achieve accessibility at that point in the developmental stage.21 To the extent a
petitioner seeks a class waiver for multiple generations of similar equipment and services, the
Commission will examine the justification for the waiver extending through the lifecycle of each discrete
generation.22 The Commission will take a careful look at industry developments to determine whether
any extensions are justified.
5.
All products and services covered by a class waiver that are introduced into the market
while the waiver is in effect will ordinarily be subject to the waiver for the duration of the life of those
particular products or services – i.e., for as long as those particular products or services are sold.23 For
example, if a particular model covered by a class waiver were introduced to the public on the day before
the expiration of the waiver period, then all products of that particular model that are sold from that point
forward would be covered by the waiver.24

16 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14637, ¶ 188, citing 47 C.F.R. § 1.3; Northeast Cellular Telephone Co.,
L.P. v. FCC
, 897 F. 2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (citing WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F. 2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir.
1969).
17 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14638-39, ¶ 192. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(c).
18 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14639, ¶ 193. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(b).
19 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14639-40, ¶ 194. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(c)(2).
20 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14639, ¶ 192. See also id. at 14609, ¶ 124 (“Natural opportunities to
assess or reassess the achievability of accessibility may include, for example, the redesign of a product model or
service, new versions of software, upgrades to existing features or functionalities, significant rebundling or
unbundling of product and service packages, or any other significant modification that may require redesign.”).
21 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14640, ¶ 194. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(c)(2).
22 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14640, ¶ 195.
23 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14640, ¶ 194. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(c)(2).
24 A new waiver would be required if a substantial upgrade is made that changes the nature of the product or service.
See ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14639, ¶ 192. See also 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, ¶ 5 (2012) (CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order).
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III.

THE COALITION PETITION

6.
Background. On May 16, 2013, a Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (the Coalition)25
filed a request for a waiver of the ACS requirements contained in sections 716 and 717 of the Act,26 and
Part 14 of the Commission’s rules,27 for a narrow class of e-readers.28 The Coalition later supplemented
its Petition on July 17, 2013.29 On August 1, 2013, the Commission released a Public Notice seeking
comment on the Coalition Petition.30 On October 22, 2013, the Commission granted a temporary waiver
for the requested class of equipment until January 28, 2014, to enable the Commission to evaluate the
merits of the waiver request and to determine whether a grant or denial would be consistent with the
Commission’s rules.31
7.
The Coalition requests a permanent waiver of the accessibility requirements for
equipment used for ACS for a single class of e-readers that it states are mobile electronic devices
“designed, marketed and used primarily for the purpose of reading text-based digital documents,
including e-books and periodicals.” 32 The Coalition explains that tablets and other general purpose
devices, such as personal computers, that are designed, marketed and used routinely to engage in online
ACS activities, such as e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP, and video conferencing, would not be covered
by the waiver, if granted.33 To distinguish the class of e-readers that would be subject to the waiver from
such general purpose devices, the Coalition proposes that the waiver apply only to devices that have the
following features:
(1) The device has no LCD screen.
(2) The device has no camera.

25 Petition for Waiver, CG Docket No. 10-213, filed May 16, 2013 (Coalition Petition). The Coalition consists of
Amazon.com, Inc., Kobo Inc., and Sony Electronics Inc.
26 47 U.S.C. §§ 617 and 618.
27 47 C.F.R. §§ 14.1 et seq.
28 See, generally, Coalition Petition.
29 Letter from Gerald J. Waldron, Counsel for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo Inc.; and Sony Electronics Inc., to Marlene
Dortch, Secretary, FCC (July 17, 2013) (Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter).
30 Request for Comment: Petition for Class Waiver of Commission’s Rules for Access to Advanced Communications
Services and equipment by People with Disabilities,
CG Docket 10-213, Public Notice, 28 FCC Rcd 11147 (CGB
2013).
31 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/Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers Petition for
Class Waiver, et al.,
CG Docket No. 10-213, 28 FCC Rcd 14598 (October 22, 2013) (Temporary Waiver Order).
32 Coalition Petition at 2; see also id. at 12, n.41 (seeking a waiver “that extends across multiple generations”). The
Coalition offers the following as examples of e-readers that would fall into the waived class: the Amazon Kindle E-
Reader, the Sony Reader, and the Kobo Glo. Id. at 3. See also Reply Comments of Coalition of E-Reader
Manufacturers at 9-11 (September 30, 2013) (Coalition Reply Comments); Letter from Gerald J. Waldron, Counsel
for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo Inc.; and Sony Electronics Inc., to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 3 (Sept. 20,
2013) (Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter); Letter from Gerald J. Waldron, Counsel for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo
Inc.; and Sony Electronics Inc., to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (Nov. 29, 2013) (Coalition Nov. 29 Ex
Parte
Letter).
33 See Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2. The Coalition offers the following as examples of e-readers that
would fall outside of the waived class: the Amazon Kindle E-Reader Fire, the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, and the Kobo
Arc. Coalition Reply Comments at 2.
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(3) The device is not offered or shipped to consumers with built-in email, IM, VoIP or other
similar ACS client applications and the device manufacturer does not develop ACS applications
for their respective device.
(4) The device is marketed to consumers as a reading device and promotional material about the
devices does not tout the capability to access ACS.34
The Coalition clarifies, however, that “[a]n e-reader subject to the proposed waiver may include a
browser and social media applications.”35
8.
The Coalition further explains that the class of e-readers for which it seeks a waiver can
be distinguished by features that it shares: screens that are optimized for reading;36 low power
consumption and extremely long battery life to facilitate long periods of reading; navigation that places
reading features front and center, including easy acquisition of e-publications; and features designed
around reading, such as highlighting, bookmarking, and lookup features.37 The Coalition also notes
features that these devices consistently do not offer, but which are more common to tablets and other
general purpose electronic devices: color screens; screens with fast refresh rates for interaction and
extensive typing; cameras; high capacity storage; and higher powered processors for graphics.38 Further,
according to the Coalition, “e-readers typically do not possess microphones or quality speakers,”39 nor
can most generate audio output or record audio input.40 In support of its assertions that e-readers are not
marketed for their ability to access ACS, the Coalition points to various webpage listings for basic e-
readers that do not mention or describe ACS functions.41 Finally, the Coalition reports industry data
indicating that only a very small percentage (less than seven percent) of e-reader users launch their
browsers to access ACS from their e-readers or for any other purpose.42

34 Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2.
35 Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter at 2, n.1.
36 The Coalition explains that these e-readers typically use electronic ink screens that are designed to prevent glare,
including in direct sunlight, and “minimize eye strain during extended reading sessions.” Coalition Petition at 2-3.
37 Coalition Petition at 2-5.
38 Coalition Petition at 6-7.
39 Coalition Petition at 6.
40 Coalition Petition at 7. The Coalition acknowledges that before tablets were introduced to the market, certain e-
readers provided audio output. However, it adds that after the introduction of tablets, “industry focused e-readers
even more on the primary purpose of accessing text-based communication, for instance by removing audio because
consumers who desire devices designed for multimedia use purchase tablets.” Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at
2.
41 See, e.g., Letter from Gerald J. Waldron, Counsel for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo Inc.; and Sony Electronics Inc., to
Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1, n.1 (Sept. 30, 2013) (Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte Letter)(citing to recent
online advertisements for the Kindle Paperwhite indicating that “it is a device that is optimized for the single
function of reading, in contrast to tablets”). See also Coalition Petition at 7; Coalition Reply Comments at 5-6.
42 Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 3-4. The Coalition reports that in
surveys conducted over a one-week period in November 2012 and October 2013, one Coalition member examined
anonymous random samples of more than 120,000 active e-reader devices and found that less than seven percent of
the users of these devices had launched their browsers. Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 3-4. According to the
Coalition, the average time the browser was left open was between 45 seconds and three minutes. Id. at 4. The
Coalition notes that it is not able to determine what portion of these individuals used their browsers to access ACS,
but claims that the brief usage pattern is consistent with “brief look ups on Wikipedia, visiting links from within
books, or other reading-related users, not with regular use for ACS.” Id.
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9.
Although the Coalition acknowledges that e-readers allow consumers to use ACS – for
example, “to access e-mail on e-readers through the on-device browser”43 – it claims that browsers on e-
readers are stripped down and rudimentary,44 in contrast to the “elegant and intuitive interfaces for
reading” provided on such devices.45 In further support of its position that basic e-readers are not
designed for regular ACS use, the Coalition claims that such devices do not contain any apps that enable
two-way communication, such as electronic messaging services (e.g., e-mail and instant messaging),
VoIP, and video conferencing.46
10.
The Coalition further asserts that it can satisfy the Commission’s general waiver standard
that good cause exists and granting a waiver would not be inconsistent with the public interest.47
Specifically, it claims that considerable hardware and software redesigns would be necessary to make the
ACS features accessible, which would not only increase the ongoing engineering, hardware and licensing
costs of these devices, but fundamentally alter its nature, causing it to be far more similar to a general
purpose tablet in design, features, cost, and battery life.48 This, the Coalition argues, would lead to the
“loss of distinctive products” that “would harm the reading public” and inhibit e-reader innovation.49 The
Coalition also suggests that granting a waiver would not substantially benefit persons with disabilities,
because the limited abilities of browsers on these devices means that the ACS experience on e-readers
would still be poor, even if made accessible.50 Finally, the Coalition claims that not providing
accessibility on basic e-readers would not harm consumers because there are many other accessible and
better ACS alternatives to basic e-readers, such as applications that have ACS capabilities on mobile
phones, tablets, and personal computers, which generally must comply with the CVAA.51

43 Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 1.
44 Coalition Petition at 7.
45 Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 3. The Coalition explains that the purpose of having browsers on basic e-
readers is “to facilitate simple browsing activities directly related to reading, such as reading hyperlinks that are
inserted into e-books and periodicals, looking up information in an online dictionary or other online information
sources like Wikipedia, or accessing WiFi at locations such as hotels that require use of a Web-based interface to
commence usage.” Coalition Petition at 7. Coalition members demonstrated the manner in which browsers are
launched on basic e-readers to Commission staff on September 18, 2013. See Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 1
(stating that while it is possible to access e-mail on e-readers through the browser, the devices are designed primarily
for accessing text-based digital works, not for using ACS).
46 Coalition Petition at 7; Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
47 Coalition Petition at 8-12. See 47 C.F.R. §1.3; ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14637, ¶ 188.
48 Coalition Petition at 8-11. For example, the Coalition claims that it would be necessary to add speakers, more
powerful processors, faster refresh screens, and to revise the software interface. Making all of these changes, the
Coalition, argues, could render single purpose e-reader devices redundant. For example, they claim that the higher
power consumption needed to support a faster refresh rate for interaction activities, such as e-mail, would make such
consumption on par with that of a tablet, compared to the lower power consumption in basic e-readers that permits a
longer battery life, a key selling point of these simpler devices. Id. at 9.
49 Coalition Petition at 10. See also Reply Comments of Digital Media Association at 2-3 (September 13, 2013)
(supporting the Coalition’s waiver request as necessary to ensure that e-readers can continue to service a specific
need).
50 Coalition Petition at 10-11.
51 Coalition Petition at 11.
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11.
A group of 23 consumer and consumer-related organizations (Consumer Groups),52 other
organizations,53 and numerous individuals54 filed comments in opposition to the Coalition Petition.
Consumer Groups maintain that ACS is a critical function that facilitates the primary purpose of basic e-
readers (i.e., reading) and, therefore, ACS serves a co-primary purpose on these devices.55 They claim
that the ACS features of e-readers, including the ability to access books on the Internet through web
browsers, the ability to connect with others, and to share and discuss content with friends over social
media,56 are the very features that set e-readers apart from print books,57 and that the existence of these
functionalities on these devices show that “the Coalition members intend for users to access these
functions as part of their [reading] experience.”58 In particular, Consumer Groups claim “the ease at
which the chats can be conducted, and the popularity of chat use in today’s culture” support their claim
that these ACS features constitute a co-primary purpose of e-readers.59 Consumer Groups also assert that
Coalition members market ACS functionality as a desirable feature of their e-readers, and cite to webpage
listings that advertise the sharing, social networking, and web browser features of basic e-readers.60
Likewise, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the American Library Association (ALA)

52 See Comments of National Federation of the Blind, American Council of the Blind, National Association of the
Deaf, Everyone Reading, National Council for Learning Disabilities, American Association of People with
Disabilities, The National Council on Independent Living, World Blind Union, DAISY Consortium, Center for
Accessible Technology, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., Disability Rights Education
and Defense Fund, Disability Rights Advocates, Association on Higher Education and Disability, The Smith-
Kettlewell Video Description Research and Development Center, Center for Applied Special Technology, National
Disability Rights Network, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, University of Wisconsin Rehabilitation
Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access, Gallaudet University Technology Access Program,
Beneficient Technology, Inc., Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, and Disability Rights Oregon
(September 3, 2013) (Consumer Groups Comments).
53 See, e.g., Comments of Disability Rights New Jersey (August 22, 2013); Comments of Minnesota State Council
on Disability (August 28, 2013); Comments of IDEAL Group, Inc. (September 1, 2013) (IDEAL Group Comments);
Comments of the US Policy Council of the Association for Computing Machinery (September 3, 2013) (USACM
Comments); Reply Comments of Association of Research Libraries (September 13, 2013) (ARL Reply Comments).
54 Most of the 148 individuals who filed comments in this proceeding address the general lack of access to the
reading features on basic e-readers and their need as individuals with print disabilities to be able to access digital
text and books, rather than their ability to use ACS on these devices. See, e.g., Comments of Albert Elia (September
3, 2013) (Elia Comments); Comments of Colleen Roth (September 3, 2013); Comments of Seema Agnihotri
(September 3, 2013).
55 Consumer Groups Comments at 7-8; (“Every type of ACS found on e-readers, including Wi-Fi access, web
browsing/built-in browsing, and social media is intended to enhance the user’s experience with the device.”).
56 Consumer Groups Comments at 9 (asserting that all of the models in the requested class “have social media
features to allow users to send messages and other information”).
57 See, e.g., Consumer Groups Comments at 9 (concluding that “[t]he ability to buy books with the touch of a button
and share information with friends instantaneously is the fundamental difference between reading a print book and
reading an electronic book”). See also Comments of Linda Halm at 1 (September 3, 2013).
58 Consumer Groups Comments at 10.
59 Letter from John G. Pare, Jr., National Federation of the Blind et al. to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 3
(Sept. 26, 2013) (NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter); Consumer Groups Comments at 9.
60 Consumer Groups Comments at 5, 10-12. For example, Consumer Groups point out that the webpage for the
Kobo Touch indicates that “Kobo Reading Life lets you . . . connect with your Facebook friends,” and that you can
“share your latest reads with your Facebook friends.” Id. at 11. See also Comments of Daniel J. Burke at 2
(September 3, 2013).
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refer to Kindle user guides that teach purchasers how to use a Kindle to communicate by e-mail as
evidence that electronic messaging is a co-primary purpose of this device.61
12.
Consumer Groups contend that the browsers included in e-readers are neither incidental
nor rudimentary, but rather intentionally installed to enhance the reading experience.62 For support, they
claim that the ability of the devices to pull and save digital content from the Internet confirms that their
browsers are “fast and user friendly” and encourage ACS use.63 Consumer Groups further criticize as
unverified Coalition data that indicates only a small percentage of e-reader owners use the browser,64 and
offer their own data to the contrary obtained through a recent survey conducted by a Washington College
of Law clinic.65
13.
Finally, Consumer Groups dispute the Coalition’s claim that the failure to make e-
readers accessible would be consistent with the public interest.66 As an initial matter, Consumer Groups
state that the failure to make basic e-readers accessible would perpetuate barriers to e-readers for people
(and particularly students) with print disabilities in educational and other settings.67 In this regard, they
claim that granting a waiver would undermine other federal nondiscrimination laws that direct
educational institutions not to use electronic book readers or other technologies that are not accessible to
people who are blind or visually impaired.68 Consumer Groups also dismiss arguments of the Coalition

61 Letter Sent on Behalf of Association of Research Libraries and American Library Association at 2 (December 6,
2013) (ARL/ALA Dec. 6 Ex Parte Letter) (adding that e-reader users can share digital content either in a private
message to a distinct recipient or to a group of individuals).
62 Consumer Groups Comments at 8-10 (noting that a browser is not incidental to the purpose of an e-reader because
it is used to purchase or borrow books from the library, allows the use of Wi-Fi, and allows for connections over
social media to share books or passages with friends). See also, e.g., Elia Comments at 1 (claiming that e-readers
have advanced communications services because of “[t]heir ability to connect to the world wide web, send and
receive e-mail through a browser . . .”).
63 Consumer Groups Comments at 11-12.
64 NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
65 ARL/ALA Dec. 6 Ex Parte Letter at 4-5 and Appendix I. According to ARL and ALA, the results of a survey of
131 users of electronic devices, conducted by the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic of the
Washington College of Law, proves that users of e-readers utilize basic e-readers for e-mail, online chats, and
similar ACS functions.
66 Consumer Groups Comments at 14-20.
67 Consumer Groups Comments at 15 (“The conversion from print to digital books provides a unique opportunity to
expand the circle of participation for users with all disabilities. Print is inherently inaccessible to the blind and other
persons with print disabilities, but accessible digital content allows people with print disabilities to transform into a
mainstream user. This opportunity eliminates barriers to books, education, and communication for people with
disabilities . . ..”).
68 Consumer Groups Comments at 17 (citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.),
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794), and guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the
U.S. Department of Education). According to Consumer Groups, Coalition members target school districts and
postsecondary institutions as large purchasers of their inaccessible e-readers, resulting in reduced accessibility for
students with print disabilities. Consumer Groups Comments at 17-18. See also Comments of the American
Library Association at 2 (September 3, 2013) (ALA Comments) (suggesting that providing equitable access for
people with disabilities to library facilities is required by the Rehabilitation Act and that any action to limit access to
reading materials to people with print disabilities is discriminatory); ARL Reply Comments at 1-6 (arguing that
accessible e-readers help ensure compliance with disability civil rights laws by postsecondary and other educational
institutions); Letter from Larra Clark, Director, Program on Networks, American Library Association, to Marlene
(continued….)
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that incorporating ACS features would fundamentally alter basic e-readers, and thereby destroy the
uniqueness of this class of equipment. Specifically, consumers point to earlier, discontinued e-reader
models that incorporated accessible features, despite having similar weight, design, and battery life to
newer products that do not have these features.69 Rather than destroy the uniqueness of e-readers,
Consumer Groups maintain that reinstating these features would simply make these devices accessible.70
Finally, in response to the Coalition’s assertion that other accessible alternatives to basic e-readers are
available, Consumer Groups assert that having to purchase costlier devices, such as tablets and
smartphones, with “many more features than they would want to use, just to be able to read digital books”
would result in a “disability tax” and a “‘separate but equal’ standard of access that is inconsistent with
the spirit of the CVAA.”71
14.
Discussion. We grant a waiver from the Commission’s ACS rules for the class of “basic
e-readers,” as defined herein,72 until January 28, 2015. We limit the term of the waiver to one year from
the expiration of the temporary waiver,73 rather than grant the Coalition’s request for an indefinite waiver.
We believe that, given the swift pace at which e-reader and tablet technologies are evolving and the
expanding role of ACS in electronic devices, granting a waiver beyond this period is outweighed by the
public interest and congressional intent to ensure that Americans with disabilities have access to advanced
communications technologies.
15.
First, we find, under the framework of the ACS Report and Order, that the class of e-
reader equipment for which the Coalition seeks a waiver is defined with sufficient specificity and that the
devices in this class share enough common characteristics to be granted a class waiver.74 We refer to this
class as “basic e-readers” to distinguish it from a broader class of devices, such as tablets, that have e-
reader functions or features but are more commonly marketed and used for purposes associated with
ACS. Such general purpose devices that are designed, marketed, and used to engage in ACS, such as
electronic messaging (e.g., e-mail and instant messaging), VoIP, or video conferencing, are not included
within this waived class.75 Specifically, consistent with the Coalition’s description,76 for purposes of this
(Continued from previous page)
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1-3 (Nov. 7, 2013) (stating that accessible e-readers would help libraries that offer e-
readers to patrons comply with disability civil rights law).
69 Consumer Groups Comments at 15. Consumer Groups explain that Amazon outfitted some Kindle e-readers with
text-to-speech functionality beginning in 2009, but discontinued even that “rudimentary accessibility” in 2012, with
the introduction of Kindle Paperwhite, which has no audio output. Consumer Groups Comments at 15-16. On
September 24, 2013, representatives of the NFB demonstrated to Commission staff the text-to-speech functionality
on an older Kindle model that had enabled blind users to navigate menus, listen to books, and purchase books, and
noted that these capabilities are no longer available on newer Kindle basic e-readers. NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter
at 4. See also, e.g., Comments of Cindy Lou Ray at 1 (September 3, 2013) (Ray Comments) (“They did proudly
proclaim that if you were driving your car, you could listen to your books rather than visually read them . . ..”); Elia
Comments at 2 (“E-Readers almost universally included headphone jacks until the most recent versions . . ..”);
Comments of Sameer Doshi (September 3, 2013) (Doshi Comments); USACM Comments at 2.
70 Consumer Groups Comments at 16.
71 Consumer Groups Comments at 18. See also NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 5; Comments of Raymond
Halverson at 1 (September 3, 2013) (Halverson Comments).
72 See ¶ 15, infra.
73 Temporary Waiver Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 14599, ¶ 1. The temporary waiver was granted on October 22, 2013,
and expires on January 28, 2014. Id.
74 See 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(b). See also ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14639, ¶ 193.
75 See Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Letter from Gerald J. Waldron, Counsel for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo
Inc.; and Sony Electronics Inc., to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (July 10, 2013) (Coalition July 10 Ex Parte
(continued….)
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class waiver, we define the class of basic e-readers to include any mobile electronic device that is capable
of accessing ACS, designed primarily for the purpose of reading text-based digital works, such as books
and periodicals, and meets each of the following requirements:
(1) The device has no LCD screen, but rather utilizes a screen that is designed to optimize
reading.77
(2) The device has no camera.78
(3) The device is not offered or shipped to consumers with built-in ACS client applications and
the device manufacturer does not develop ACS applications for its respective device, but the
device may be offered or shipped to consumers with a browser and social media
applications.79
(4) The device is marketed to consumers as a reading device and promotional material about the
device does not tout the capability to access ACS.
16.
Next, we must consider whether basic e-readers are designed primarily or co-primarily
for ACS. After a review of the record, we find that basic e-readers are capable of accessing ACS, are
designed for multiple purposes, and that consumers do utilize them for ACS, but, at present, we find that
they are designed primarily for the purpose of reading, which makes such devices eligible for waiver
under section 716(h)(1)(A) and (B) of the Act and section 14.5(a) of the Commission’s rules.80 To begin
with, we consider the design of these devices. The current relatively slow refresh screen rates,81 the
absence of apps for integrated e-mail clients,82 the inability of basic e-readers to display video for any
purpose, including video conferencing,83 and the lack of high powered processors84 on these devices
(Continued from previous page)
Letter); Letter from Gerald J. Waldron, Counsel for Amazon.com, Inc.; Kobo Inc.; and Sony Electronics Inc., to
Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, at 1 (July 15, 2013) (Coalition July 15 Ex Parte Letter).
76 See Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2. See also ¶ 7, supra.
77 The Coalition explains that “e-readers include electronic ink screens optimized for reading (including in direct
sunlight) and designed to minimize eye strain during extended reading sessions.” Coalition Petition at 2-3.
Consumer Groups oppose including the absence of an LCD screen as a defining characteristic of the waived class
because LCD screens could “easily become obsolete,” thereby including under the waiver whatever newer screen
technology that replaces these screens. Consumer Groups Comments at 13-14; see also USACM Comments at 1.
To address the concerns of Consumer Groups, we have added qualifying language to the LCD screen limitation
proposed by the Coalition, to make clear that screens on devices within the waived class must be optimized for
reading. Additionally, we remind all parties that devices must meet all requirements of the definition to fall within
the waiver. We will continue to monitor screen technology on these devices during the period of this one-year
waiver and, if necessary, re-evaluate and re-define the definitional class if a renewal of the waiver is requested.
78 A camera is included among these four criteria as a means of distinguishing basic e-readers from more complex
devices, such as tablets. See Coalition July 17 Ex Parte Letter at 2, n.2.
79 We have allowed the class to include devices that have browsers and social media applications, as proposed by the
Coalition because, as discussed below, the mere existence of these features does not mean that ACS used over these
applications is a primary or co-primary purpose of the devices in which they are included. Coalition July 17 Ex
Parte
Letter at 2, n.1. See ¶¶ 17-18, infra, for further discussion of these features.
80 47 U.S.C. § 617(h)(1)(A) and (B); 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(a).
81 Coalition Petition at 7.
82 Id.; Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
83 Coalition Petition at 7.
84 Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 6; Coalition Petition at 6-7.
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support a finding that these devices at this time are not designed for ACS.85
17.
Although all parties to this proceeding agree that browsers included on basic e-reader
devices are capable of accessing ACS, such as electronic messaging services,86 and are subject to the
accessibility requirements of the CVAA,87 we are persuaded by petitioners that the primary purpose of
basic e-readers at this time is to access text-based digital works and perform tasks associated with
reading, such as looking up words and concepts in online dictionaries and other sources, accessing Wi-Fi
to download books, and posting information on social media websites.88 The competing public interests
at stake – i.e., the ability of consumers with disabilities to use ACS via basic e-readers, versus the e-reader
industry’s interest in preserving a unique product – make consideration of this petition a close call, similar
to that presented by the ESA gaming system waiver request.89 However, the mere inclusion of web
browsers on these devices or the fact that they provide access to ACS, including ACS available on some
social media websites,90 or even that “Internet access is a basic functionality of e-readers that is integral to
their use and popularity”91 is not sufficient to reach a determination that ACS is a primary or co-primary
purpose of these devices. Using a browser to post information to a social media website (e.g., Facebook),
look up information on the web, access Wi-Fi, or purchase or download an e-book is not evidence of

85 Conversely, screens that are optimized for long periods of reading without glare, front and center navigation
features specifically designed for book acquisition, and built-in reading tools, such as highlighting, bookmarking and
look-up features, all suggest that the primary purpose of these devices is for reading text-based digital works.
Coalition Petition at 4; Coalition July 10 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Coalition July 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1. We also note
that Commission staff witnessed demonstrations by Coalition representatives and Consumer Group representatives
on how to access ACS via the browsers on several basic e-readers. See Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 1;
Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 1, n.1; NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2. Although these demonstrations
illustrated the ability to access electronic messaging services on these devices, generally such access was achieved
indirectly through websites, and required several steps, in contrast to the one-touch, single-step access generally
available for accessing e-mail clients on tablets and other general purpose ACS-enabled devices. The roundabout
path that users must travel to access these services on basic e-readers serves as an additional indication that their
design is not intended for general e-mail and other ACS purposes.
86 Coalition July 10 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Coalition July 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1; Consumer Groups Comments at 5,
10-14; Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte Letter at 1. Electronic messaging service covered by section 716 of the Act is
defined as a service “that provides real-time or near real-time non-voice messages in text form between individuals
over communications networks.” 47 U.S.C. § 153(19); 47 C.F.R. § 14.10(i).
87 See 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; Amendments to the Commission’s Rules
Implementing Sections 255 and 251(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by the
Telecommunications Act of 1966; Accessible Mobile Phone Options for People who are Blind, Deaf-Blind, or Have
Low Vision
, CG Docket No. 10-213, WT Docket No. 96-198, CG Docket No. 10-145, Second Report and Order, 28
FCC Rcd 5957 (2013) (Second Report and Order) (affirming, in part, that Internet browsers used for ACS, when
installed by ACS equipment manufacturers or provided by ACS service providers, are software subject to section
716 of the Act).
88 See Coalition Petition at 7; Reply Comments of The Internet Association at 2 (September 13, 2013) (The Internet
Association Reply Comments). Accordingly, we agree with the Coalition that, at this time, the removal of the ACS
functions would not impact the primary purpose of basic e-readers, which is reading. See generally Coalition Nov
29 Ex Parte Letter at 4. We disagree with commenters who assert that ACS is a critical function that facilitates
reading. See ¶ 11, supra.
89 See CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC 12987-89, ¶ 36.
90 ARL Reply Comments at 5.
91 ALA Comments at 1.
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ACS; nor does it support a finding that ACS is a primary or co-primary purpose of these devices.92
Rather, we must look to whether the browser is designed, marketed, and used for ACS, such as electronic
messaging services, in order to determine whether basic e-readers have ACS as one of their primary or
co-primary purposes.
18.
As noted above, among the factors used to determine whether ACS is a primary or co-
primary purpose of a device is the extent to which the ACS functionality is advertised, announced, or
marketed to consumers as a reason for purchasing, installing, downloading, or accessing the equipment or
service.93 Contrary to the assertions of some commenters,94 an independent review of the manufacturer
marketing materials for these devices further supports a finding that their primary purpose is for reading,
rather than for ACS.95 The Coalition, in arguing against ACS as a primary or co-primary function of e-
readers, further points to industry data showing that less than seven percent of users launch their e-reader
browsers for any purpose,96 as well as the fact that many Americans have both tablets and basic e-readers,

92 See Consumer Groups Comments at 5, 7-10; IDEAL Group Comments at 1-2; ALA Comments at 1-2, noting that
browsers on basic e-readers have these capabilities. As the Commission previously noted, an electronic messaging
service includes “more traditional, two-way interactive services such as text messaging, instant messaging, and
electronic mail, rather than . . . blog posts, online publishing, or messages posted on social networking websites.”
ACS Report and Order
, 26 FCC Rcd at 14574, ¶ 43, quoting Senate Report at 6; House Report at 23 (emphasis
added). See also Coalition Reply Comments at 3; The Internet Association Reply Comments at 2-3 (emphasizing
that, although basic e-readers have browsers, the definition of ACS does not include Wi-Fi access, posting to a
social media site, or purchases made through a browser); Comments of Consumer Electronics Association at 3-4
(September 13, 2013) (arguing that the mere use of an e-reader’s browser to buy books or download newspapers
does not constitute ACS); Letter from Gina G. Woodworth, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs,
The Internet Association, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC (Dec. 20, 2013).
93 ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14635, ¶ 185. See also CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at
12987, ¶ 35.
94 See ¶ 11, supra (noting webpage listings that advertise the sharing, social networking, and web browser features
of basic e-readers).
95 Information provided on the product listings for the Kindle E-Reader and the Kobo Aura HD focuses primarily
on ways to facilitate reading on these devices. For example, the Amazon website states that its electronic ink screen
“looks and reads like real paper,” notes that the device is “lighter than a paperback,” explains that its battery life
allows one “to read for up to a month on a single charge,” touts the ability to “read as easily in bright sunlight as in
your living room,” and states, “[u]nlike tablet screens, Kindle has no glare.” The website goes on to inform
consumers that they can find a book [wirelessly] and start reading in seconds,” and stresses the fact that the device
has “Adjustable Text Sizes, Font Choices.” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007HCCNJU (last visited
January 10, 2014). Similarly, the Kobo website announces its “immersive reading experience,” a “breakthrough
front-light that’s perfect for reading,” the ability to “customiz[e] your reading experience” with a selection of font
styles and sizes, and the ability to “enjoy reading up to two months of uninterrupted reading on a single charge.”
http://www.kobo.com/koboaurahd (last visited January 10, 2014). Although the Amazon website also suggests to
potential purchasers that they will be able to share their passion for books with others, these references appear to be
focused primarily on the ability to post passages to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, rather than to
carry on conversations about books. See also Coalition Petition at 4-5; Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
96 See ¶ 8, supra. For a number of reasons, we do not find the ARL/ALA survey findings on e-reader ACS use,
which attempt to counter this data, persuasive. See ARL/ALA Dec. 6 Ex Parte Letter at 4-5 and Appendix I. First,
we are concerned that respondents to the consumer survey may have been biased in their responses because the
survey’s introduction instructed participants to “[p]lease take a moment to complete this short survey and help
ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to emerging technologies.” ARL/ALA Dec. 6 Ex Parte
Letter at Appendix I. In addition, the survey failed to define “basic” e-readers versus “electronic devices” that are
used for reading, and to clearly distinguish between using social media apps to post information (a non-ACS feature)
and using these apps to conduct interactive communication (an ACS feature). See id. Such failures put into
question ARL/ALA’s conclusion that the “survey findings underscore the important role that the ability to
(continued….)
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presumably to use the latter primarily for reading activities.97 We have carefully considered these
arguments in determining whether ACS is a primary or co-primary purpose on e-readers, and believe that
the availability of social media apps on these devices that are capable of providing two-way interactive
ACS between individuals, such as chat functions that are covered by Section 716 of the Act, make this a
close call.98 However, given the current design, marketing, and general use of these devices discussed
herein and above,99 we are unconvinced that using the chat function of social media apps is a primary or
co-primary function of basic e-readers at this time.100 For all of the above reasons, we are persuaded that
access to ACS is not, at this time, a primary or co-primary purpose of basic e-readers but rather serves an
incidental purpose on these devices.101
19.
Finally, we agree that the Coalition has demonstrated good cause to waive the rules for
the class of basic e-readers, and that, at this time, a one-year waiver would be in the public interest.102 We
recognize and acknowledge the critical purpose of the CVAA to ensure that Americans with disabilities
have the capability to use ACS to communicate with others. As Congress explained, the benefits of
modern communications technologies “have profoundly altered our everyday lives . . . allowing mobile
access to the Internet and a diverse menu of applications and services.”103 Though many advances have
(Continued from previous page)
communicate with others plays in purchasing decisions and use of [basic e-reader] devices.” ARL/ALA Dec. 6 Ex
Parte
Letter at 4.
97 Coalition Petition at 9 (noting that a November 2012 Pew study revealed that 11 percent of Americans own both
an e-reader and a tablet).
98 As the Commission previously found, electronic messaging includes two-way interactive services, such as text
messaging, instant messaging, and electronic mail, even when such services are provided through social networking
or related sites. CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12991, n.178. There is disagreement in the record
of this proceeding about the extent to which individuals can use chat features available through social media apps on
basic e-readers. See Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte Letter at 1 (“Pre-installed Facebook features can be used only for
non-ACS social sharing concerning electronic publications, consistent with e-readers’ primary purpose. Make no
mistake: the only method to access ACS on an e-reader is via the limited browser.”); contra NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte
Letter at 1-2 (claiming that Facebook chats can be accomplished easily on basic e-readers). Even assuming that
social media apps included on these devices allow users to access chat and other electronic messaging features, for
the reasons discussed above, we conclude that such ACS capabilities are not a primary or co-primary purpose of
these devices.
99 See ¶¶ 16-18; nn.92-93, supra.
100 We acknowledge that some basic e-readers assign unique e-mail addresses to users for the purpose of distributing
documents. For example, Kindle e-readers offer a “Whispercast” feature, which permits a user to send Kindle
content to user groups. See https://whispercast.amazon.com/info/whispercast-features (last visited January 10,
2014). Similarly, the “Send to Kindle” feature permits users and their approved contacts to send documents to
themselves and each other via e-mail addresses assigned to their registered Kindle devices, Kindle reading
applications, and their Kindle library in the Amazon cloud. See http://www.amazon.com/gp/sendtokindle/email
(last visited January 10, 2014). Other features enable users to share notes and quotes on social media sites and see
passages frequently highlighted by other readers. See http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Papershite-
3G/dp/B007OZNUCE (last visited January 10, 2014) and http://www.kobo.com/readinglife (last visited January 10,
2014). As noted below, during the limited period of this waiver, we will assess the extent to which these e-mailing
functions and other electronic messaging features capable on these devices evolve to facilitate interactive ACS
between individuals, and specifically, whether they result in ACS taking on a co-primary purpose of these devices.
101 The Senate and House Reports state that “a device designed for a purpose unrelated to accessing advanced
communications might also provide, on an incidental basis, access to such services.” Senate Report at 8; House
Report at 26.
102 47 C.F.R. § 1.3. See also ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14637, ¶ 188.
103 Senate Report at 1; House Report at 19.
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improved the communications capabilities of persons with disabilities, Congress noted that “the
extraordinary benefits of these technological advances are often still not accessible to individuals with
disabilities.”104 The primary concern of consumers in this proceeding, however, as evidenced by their
various filings, seems to focus far more on their interest in accessing text-based digital works on basic e-
readers and the consequent harm that the denial of such access poses to educational institutions, libraries,
and their students and patrons, than on the ability to access the ACS features of these devices.105 We are
very sensitive to these concerns, understand the need to provide access to text-based digital works,
recognize the importance to the community of people with disabilities of being able to access text in an
audio format, and acknowledge that some ACS is also text based. We further note that, while the ability
of basic e-readers to provide access to the reading features for text-based digital works on these devices
falls outside the CVAA’s ACS accessibility mandates, these concerns do bear on the extent to which a
waiver would be in the public interest. Because we have determined that ACS is not currently a primary
or co-primary purpose of basic e-readers and that ACS usage now appears to be relatively small, we do
not believe that waiving the mandate to provide accessible ACS will have a significant impact on the
ability of consumers with disabilities or the general public to have access to ACS at this time.106
However, we are concerned that a lengthy or permanent waiver might negatively impact consumers with
disabilities in the future with respect to their ability to access ACS and therefore limit the duration of this
waiver to one year.107
20.
In granting the waiver, we recognize the Coalition’s concern regarding the preservation
of basic e-readers as a niche product that is devoted to accessing text-based digital works.108 According
to the Coalition, in order to incorporate ACS accessibility into basic e-readers at this time, manufacturers
would have to so alter the nature and functions of these devices that they would become tablets and
effectively reverse an industry trend to distinguish between basic e-readers that are designed primarily for
reading on the one hand, and more general purpose tablets that have reading as only one of their primary
purposes on the other.109 The Coalition has stated that making ACS accessible on e-readers would require
re-engineering operating systems that prioritize battery life, increasing screen refresh rates, and revising
the display and user interfaces to support accessibility features – all of which would essentially convert a

104 Senate Report at 2; House Report at 19.
105 See, e.g., Consumer Groups Comments at 15-17; ARL Reply Comments at 1-6; Comments of Carol Castellano,
Director of Programs, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children at 1-2 (September 3, 2013); ALA
Comments at 2-3; Halverson Comments at 1; Comments of Andrew Wai at 2 (September 3, 2013).
106 The Coalition points out that the efforts of e-reader manufacturers to achieve compliance with the CVAA’s ACS
mandates that went into effect October 8, 2013, have resulted in a variety of alternatives for consumers needing
ACS access (as well as reading access) on tablets, computers, smartphones, and other multipurpose Internet-enabled
mobile devices. See Coalition Petition at 11; Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 5-6. Generally, we do not believe
that an examination of whether accessible alternatives can provide a meaningful substitute adds significantly to the
waiver analysis, which focuses on an examination of whether the equipment in question is designed primarily for
purposes other than using ACS. See ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14636, ¶ 187. Moreover, we remain
concerned that such alternatives do not provide equivalency in features or price to a basic e-reader. See Consumer
Groups Comments at 18.
107 See infra, at ¶¶ 24-25.
108 See Coalition Petition at 8-10.
109 See Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (explaining that, after tablets were introduced, industry sought to
distinguish e-readers in the market by focusing their design even more on the primary purpose of reading).
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basic e-reader into a tablet.110 We find, however, that the rapid pace of evolution of the technology
involved substantially undercuts these Coalition concerns.111
21.
We emphasize that our conclusions in this order are not intended to express a judgment
about the feasibility of incorporating accessibility features for the purpose of enabling reading by people
with disabilities on basic e-reader devices. Indeed, while Consumers Groups suggest that earlier models
of basic e-readers provided accessibility features, such as audio output, without altering their weight and
battery life,112 the extent to which these earlier models provided access to ACS remains unclear. A
consumer demonstration for Commission staff illustrated text-to-speech functionality on earlier devices
that permitted users to navigate through menus, buy and listen to books, but not to access ACS features.113
Moreover, the fact that it was possible to incorporate such features into some of these nascent models fails
to acknowledge the evolution of e-reader devices, which began as a single class of devices, all of which
offered rudimentary connections with the Internet, but which since, has branched off into two types of
devices: basic e-readers that are optimized for and primarily used for reading (and therefore include
features such as low power consumption, extremely long battery life, and navigation that places reading
features front and center); and multipurpose devices that have various ACS capabilities and must be
accessible to people with disabilities under the CVAA. We believe that, for the next year, given that
subsequent technical and marketplace developments have replaced the early e-reader models with two
new types of devices, and absent a finding that ACS is at this time a primary or co-primary function of the
devices, good cause exists to waive the Commission’s ACS rules for the class of basic e-readers for the
purpose of preserving basic e-readers as a niche product that is primarily designed for reading.114 We

110 See Coalition Petition at 8-10; ¶ 10, supra; Coalition Nov. 29 Ex Parte Letter at 5. We note that the extent to
which the inclusion of accessibility features on a device would result in a fundamental alteration of the device is part
of the achievability analysis, which generally compares a covered entity’s resources with the costs and feasibility of
incorporating accessibility features. 47 C.F.R. § 14.10(b); see also ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14607-
14619, ¶¶ 119-148. While such analysis is not generally a consideration for purposes of determining whether ACS
is a primary purpose of a product, in the instant case, as part of our public interest analysis, we consider whether the
alterations needed would be so fundamental as to prevent the product from being offered to the public in its original
form.
111 See, e.g., Moore’s Law at http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/history/museum-gordon-moore-law.html
(last visited January 24, 2014) (observing that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on
integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years). See also http://www.biznology.com/2013/11/are-
marketers-underestimating-the-pace-of-technological-change/ (last visited January 24, 2014);
http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/174477-at-long-last-new-lithium-battery-tech-actually-arrives-on-the-market-
and-might-already-be-in-your-smartphone (last visited January 24, 2014).
112 Consumer Groups Comments at 16; NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 4, Ray Comments at 1; Elia Comments at 2;
Doshi Comments; USACM Comments at 2. See also ¶ 13, supra.
113 NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 4.
114 We note that the Coalition, in several of its pleadings, argues that Congress intended the Commission to apply the
waiver provision in order to promote innovation. See, e.g., Coalition Petition at 10; Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte
Letter at 3. Although we agree on the need to allow production of basic e-reader devices that provide access to ACS
on an incidental basis, as is the case here, we disagree that the need to incorporate accessibility features in these and
other devices would, in and of itself, impede innovation. As we have previously noted, often the need to provide
accessibility features results in innovations that are used by not only people with disabilities, but by the general
public. Such was the case, for example, with talking caller ID systems, which enable people who are blind to
ascertain the identities of incoming callers, but which also are used by sighted people seeking to enjoy dinner
without getting up from the table to answer a call, as well as closed captioning, which enable people with and
without hearing loss to watch television in noisy places, such as bars and exercise facilities. See CEA/NCTA/ESA
Waiver Order,
27 FCC Rcd at 12991-92, ¶ 40, n.184.
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anticipate, however, that rapid advances in battery and computing technology may very well resolve the
Coalition’s concerns.115
22.
Duration of Waiver. The Coalition urges the Commission to grant an indefinite waiver
for the class of basic e-readers, arguing that the narrow definition of the class makes it self-containing.116
Specifically, the Coalition insists that only devices that meet the requirements of the class will ever be
subject to the waiver, and that “[i]f e-readers in the future add features and capabilities that cause them to
resemble tablets with full and readily available ACS functionality,” the waiver for those devices would
expire on its own terms.117 The Consumer Groups ask the Commission to limit the waiver to one year, if
granted.118
23.
Since their introduction into the marketplace about six years ago and even very recently,
e-readers have evolved at a rapid pace, becoming sleeker, lighter, easier to read, and less expensive with
larger capacities and wireless capabilities.119 The rapid changes in both e-reader and ACS
technologies,120 as well as the expanding importance of ACS technologies in the daily lives of all
Americans,121 argue against granting a permanent waiver at this time. It is difficult to predict, for
example, the extent to which, over the next few years, e-readers that currently fall into the protected class
will evolve to include greater ACS capabilities or the extent to which new accessibility solutions for ACS
will be developed to facilitate the inclusion of accessibility features on basic e-readers without
fundamentally altering these niche products.
24.
While, as noted above, we are persuaded that e-reader manufacturers are not designing or
promoting these products for their ACS features at the present time, if ACS features on the next
generation of these devices are featured more prominently and, for example, begin to be utilized regularly
in education, employment, and as a tool of social integration,122 it is conceivable that mobile

115 See supra, n.117.
116 Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte Letter at 5.
117 Coalition July 15 Ex Parte Letter at 1. See also Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte Letter at 3; Coalition Petition at 12,
n.41. For example, the Coalition suggests that if electronic ink screens begin to be used on multi-purpose devices
that include a camera, or ACS is marketed on these devices, the existing class definition would make sure that these
devices do not receive a waiver. Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 3. The Coalition adds that convergence of
basic e-readers with other classes of devices with ACS as a co-primary purpose is unlikely. See Coalition Petition at
11-12; Coalition Sept. 20 Ex Parte Letter at 3. The Coalition cites to the ongoing waiver from the Commission’s
closed captioning rules that was granted to digital still cameras and consumer video cameras. Coalition Sept. 20 Ex
Parte
Letter at 3.
118 NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 5.
119 See http://www.udibod.com/about-e-readers/ (last visited January 10, 2014);
http://www.marsdd.com/2013/01/09/sizing-up-trends-in-the-evolution-of-e-reading/ (last visited January 10, 2014);
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219834160573010 (last visited January 10,
2014).
120 For example, as the Consumer Groups note, changes in the type of screen technologies used on these devices
could result in basic e-readers becoming more similar to tablets than they are now. Consumer Groups Comments at
13.
121 While only seven percent of current basic e-reader users were found to access browsers on these devices, it is
very possible that this number will grow and that individuals will increasingly use such browsers for ACS functions
in the coming years, given the pervasiveness of ACS in American society.
122 See, e.g., http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/should-e-readers-embrace-social-media-more (last
visited January 10, 2014); http://socialmediatoday.com/heyangelo/1934851/chat-apps-could-ignite-true-engagement
(last visited January 10, 2014).
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communication in the online e-reader environment may become a co-primary purpose of basic e-reader
devices.123 Because basic e-reader devices already provide some ACS capabilities,124 and because of the
challenge of predicting with any degree of accuracy the technological trends in an industry that continues
to evolve at an extraordinary pace, we agree with the NFB that it is difficult at this time to confirm the
“Coalition’s prediction that e-readers will continue to be devices distinct from tablets, or how educational
institutions or libraries may require ACS usage in e-readers.”125 Given the evidence that has been
presented to the Commission of the utility of the ACS available in these devices,126 and our concern about
the harm to consumers with disabilities that might result from the denial of access to ACS should ACS
develop into a primary or co-primary function on these devices, we find that granting a waiver for basic e-
readers for an indefinite period would be contrary to the public interest.127
25.
In defining the waiver period for the class of basic e-readers, we consider the products’
lifecycle – the time it takes for a product to be developed and initially introduced in the market.128 The
Coalition reports that the lifecycle of the class of basic e-readers, from drawing board to marketplace, is
approximately two years.129 However, the Commission finds that the Coalition does not provide
sufficient substantiation for its claim.130 While important technologic breakthroughs may require several
years of development,131 the smaller incremental improvements seen in most product releases do not
appear to take that long.132 Moreover, Consumer Groups claim that Coalition members have released a

123 For example, NFB points to reading systems specifically marketed for educational purposes, such as Vital Source
Bookshelf and Coursemart, which encourage students to share notes directly with other classmates, and content
management systems such as Blackboard, which it says allow students to participate in discussion groups and
connect with their instructors. NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 4. See also ARL/ALA Dec. 6 Ex Parte Letter at 2-4
(noting that there are currently 1.19 billion active monthly users of Facebook in the U.S., and the important role that
social media has come to play in providing point-to-point communication).
124 For example, the demonstration provided by the Consumer Groups showed users logging into Facebook and
conducting real time communications through the Sony Reader and Kindle Paperwhite. NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte
Letter at 1-2.
125 NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 5.
126 See, e.g., NFB Sept. 26 Ex Parte Letter at 1-2.
127 See generally CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12990-91, ¶ 39.
128 See CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12989-90, ¶ 38.
129 Coalition Sept. 30 Ex Parte Letter at 3, n.6; Coalition Reply Comments at 11.
130 The Coalition cites confidentiality of development times to explain its lack of substantiation for its stated
lifecycle. Coalition Reply Comments at 12, n.38. While the Commission recognizes that the class waiver
petitioners need not disclose specific confidential strategic information, the lack of supportive evidence must be
weighed against contravening evidence. See ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14641, ¶ 199,
131 For example, changes to screen technology may require several years to develop. See, e.g.,
http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-18438_7-57592886-82/heres-the-flexible-e-ink-screen-that-could-be-in-the-2014-
kindle/ (last visited January 24, 2014). See also Coalition Reply Comments at 12.
132 The Kindle Paperwhite, for example, was reportedly in development for a matter of months rather than years.
See, e.g., Michael Kozlowski, “Review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite,” (Oct. 18, 2012) at
http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/review-of-the-amazon-kindle-paperwhite (last visited January 24,
2014) (“The company has been actively developing their new Paperwhite for over six months and it will hit the USA
market on October 26th.”). This shorter development period is mirrored in Kindle’s actions this year, as it has
planned release of its new generation Paperwhite approximately six months following its last Paperwhite release.
See http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/next-gen-amazon-kindle-paperwhite-with-330ppi-display-reportedly-
coming-in-2014-108481.html (last visited January 24, 2014); http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/future-kindle-
(continued….)
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new generation of e-readers every year since 2010.133 We find this credible. The Commission notes that,
while the period of time a product is in use by consumers is not determinative of the length of the product
lifecycle,134 the spacing of product releases can certainly be evidence of the time it takes for a product to
be developed and introduced in the market. The Commission therefore finds that the lifecycle of the class
of basic e-readers is one year, and grants a limited duration class waiver until January 28, 2015.135 We
believe that limiting the waiver period to one year will serve the public interest by balancing the interest
of the Coalition’s members in preserving a unique product and the interest of consumers with disabilities
to access ACS in the event that basic e-readers come to include ACS as a co-primary purpose.
26.
The action we take herein is without prejudice to the Coalition requesting an extension of
the waiver period. During the waiver period, we will not require manufacturers of the equipment covered
by the waiver to comply with the obligations of section 14.20, the performance objectives of section
14.21, and the recordkeeping obligations of section 14.31 of the Commission’s rules.136 However, to the
extent that future generations of basic e-readers evolve to provide ACS as one of their primary functions,
we expect manufacturers of basic e-readers to consider accessible design early during the development
stages of the such products, so that accessible features can be incorporated when the class waiver expires
on January 28, 2015.137
(Continued from previous page)
paperwhite-feature-300ppi-100824676.html (last visited January 24, 2014) (November 2013 announcement of
development of product to be released in spring 2014); http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/24/amazons-next-kindle-
paperwhite-to-feature-300ppi-screen-better-typography-arrive-early-next-year/ (last visited January 24, 2014)
(same).
133 Consumer Groups Comments at 12-13. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Kindle (last visited
January 24, 2014) (detailing Amazon releases of new generation Kindles on an annual basis).
134 See, e.g., CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12989, ¶ 38 (“in defining the waiver period . . . we only
consider the time it takes for a product to be developed and initially introduced in the market, and not the period of
time it is deployed.”).
135 Previously, the Commission granted waivers from its ACS rules for two years for other types of multipurpose
equipment that had ACS functionality. See CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd 12970. However, the
Commission does not always link its waiver duration to claimed product lifecycles. Manufacturers of some of the
equipment covered by those previous waivers cited much longer development cycles than the two years permitted
by the waivers. ESA, for example, stated that it required five to seven years for video game development, but was
granted a two-year waiver. CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12990, ¶ 39. NCTA cited a two- to
three-year development cycle, but was also only granted a two-year waiver. CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27
FCC Rcd at 12980-81, ¶ 20.
136 47 C.F.R. §§ 14.20, 14.21, 14.31. The waiver of these rules also includes a waiver of the obligation to conduct
an achievability analysis for the waived products during the period of the waiver. See ACS Report and Order, 27
FCC Rcd at 14607-14619, ¶¶ 119-148. See also CEA/NCTA/ESA Waiver Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 12976-77, 12980,
12988-89, ¶¶ 11, 19, 36.
137 In other words, a manufacturer of e-readers is expected to conducted accessibility planning as early as possible
during the design process (including achievability analyses, as necessary) during the period of the class waiver for
models that the manufacturer plans to introduce after January 28, 2015, as these models would not be subject to the
waiver. ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14602, ¶ 108; see also id. at 14609, ¶ 124 (“we believe in many
instances, accessibility is more likely to be achievable if covered entities consider accessibility issues early in the
development cycle”). We recognize, however, that the achievability analysis conducted for products and services
already under development at the time when the class waiver expires may take into consideration the developmental
stage of those products or services and the effort and expense needed to achieve accessibility at that point in their
development. See ACS Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 14640, ¶ 194. See also 47 C.F.R. § 14.5(c)(2). ,.
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IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

27.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 4(i),
4(j) and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), (j) and 617, and
sections 0.361, 1.3 and 14.5 of the Commission’s Rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.361, 1.3 and 14.5, this Order IS
ADOPTED.
28.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Coalition Petition IS GRANTED to the extent
discussed above and IS OTHERWISE DENIED.
29.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Order SHALL BE EFFECTIVE upon release.
30.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print,
electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Kris Anne Monteith
Acting Chief
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
19

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