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The button that is soldered to the board is likely either broken or the solder joint has come loose. If the DS is less than a year old contact Nintendo for a free replacement. If it's older than that you can open it up and resolder the button or replace the button which would require you to desolder the old one and solder in a new one. You can also simply sell the unit as broken on ebay and apply that money toward a new one if you don't feel comfortable taking the system apart. The DS Lite is easily broken when taking it apart and everything has to be just right for it to go back together. If you have more questions let me know.
You can try taking apart the console and cleaning the connections for the sholder buttons. You also should be making sure they are springy and connect to the board properly. The ones that I have repaired with this problem have all been cleanings. You can find video disasembly tutorials by googling around with "take apart ds." If this is a DS-Lite, then just follow the same instructions but google DS-Lite instead of DS.