Reading devices on Planes

Marco Arment writes:

If you’re using an iPad, must you be reading during taxi, takeoff, and landing instead of watching a movie or playing Super Stickman Golf 2? Am I allowed to listen to Phish in my headphones while I’m reading? If not, are audiobooks or screen-readers allowed, or are we discriminating against the visually impaired?

This entire piece really hammers home the problems with drawing distinctions between the types of devices we have now, and what we do or the types of media we consume with them. We’re back to the same old question: “Are iPads computers?”

In either case, specifying reading consumption does indeed pose some serious accessibility questions, as Marco rightly points out. And, unless you’re blasting audio through your earbuds, how would anyone know if someone is listening to the latest Stephen King novel or the latest Dido record? Who cares? Even if exceptions were made, are flight attendants going to be expected to police visually impaired travelers’ devices to make sure what they are actually listening to is textual? This is a bizarre and ill-conceived distinction.