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DIGITAL TALKING BOOKS: MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE BLIND AND THE HANDICAPPED MaryBeth Wise, Quality Assurance Specialist, The National Library Service for.

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Presentation on theme: "DIGITAL TALKING BOOKS: MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE BLIND AND THE HANDICAPPED MaryBeth Wise, Quality Assurance Specialist, The National Library Service for."— Presentation transcript:

1 DIGITAL TALKING BOOKS: MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE BLIND AND THE HANDICAPPED MaryBeth Wise, Quality Assurance Specialist, The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS/BHP)/ SLIS Student, CUA Kurt Cylke Director, NLS/BPH, The Library of Congress Ingrid Hsieh-Yee, Catholic U. of America

2 Library of Congress (LOC) – History of Service to the Blind and Physically Handicapped (1) LOC opened a reading room for blind Free Mailing Privileges established to deliver brailled material to blind individuals Pratt-Smoot Act is Passed by Congress- Free Library Service to Blind persons is established The Pratt-Smoot Act is amended to included the provision of books in sound- reproduction records. ( Public Law No. 439, 3/4/33)

3 History of Service (2) October Talking Book program begins offering 27 titles on12 inch, 33 1/3 rd recorded discs NLS program is expanded to include physically handicapped individuals NLS books are distributed on cassette NLS begins planning, research and development of digital players and media Digital Talking Book Program is Launched

4 Usage Statistics 822,596 Patrons 24,201,644 Items circulated (2007 ) Sources: CMLS Annual Reader statistical reports from Network Libraries (2007) Non User Survey and NCHS, Bureau of the Census, Population Report Series P-25, Census FactFinder Report

5 Services at NLSBPH Who Is Eligible? Individuals permanently or temporarily handicapped residing in the U.S, and U.S. citizens residing abroad. Blind Visually Impaired Physically Handicapped Estimated eligible readership nationwide- 2,077,033 Services Offered Audio materials – analog and digital formats Braille Web braille Large Print Distribution of Materials Through network of 124 cooperating regional and subregional libraries throughout the U.S. and abroad.

6 STATISTICS BY TYPE OF DISABILITY Source: CMLS Stats from all participating Regional and Subregional Libraries Disability Percentage of Registered Users Blind38% Visually Handicapped42.3% Physically Handicapped5.8% Dislexic/reading disabled9.2% Deaf and Blind.5% None Given3.8%

7 NLS READERSHIP STATISTICS (2007) FormatNo. of Readers Recorded Cassettes388,740 Readers served through active deposit collections (nursing homes, hospitals etc.) 228,123 Recorded Discs 3,894 Readers accessing audio books through direct download (BARD website). 4, 548 Braille 22,288 Web braille readers 5,186 Readers served by miscellaneous network formats 174,547

8 PERCENTAGE OF USERS BY TYPE Total readership- 822, 596 (CMLS Statistics). >20 %- Braille Users 95%- Audio Users (Some patrons using both formats).

9 AGE DEMOGRAPHICS (2007) AGE (in years)Percentage of Users Under 10 yrs 9% % % % % % % % % %

10 DEVELOPMENTS THAT LED TO DIGITAL BOOK PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION Pending obsolescence of old technologies (cassettes). Last NLS cassette player produced 2/28/07. Better sound quality Ease of Navigation Portability Decreasing cost of digital storage devices (flash cartridges).

11 Meeting User Needs A robust digital player (can survive drops, spills etc). Large controls brightly colored so they may be seen by people with low vision. Textured buttons so play, ff, rewind, etc. identifiable by touch Talking player that informs the user what it is doing. Books with special mark-up, navigable and accessible. NLS Books are unabridged (contain notes, bibliographies and other elements often left out of commercial audio bks. Efficient system of delivery to patrons Short term plan- direct delivery by USPS of digital book on flash cartridge. Long Term Plan-Direct Download of digital Books via internet to be played on accessible player.

12 DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES CONSIDERED CD technology Compact discs are not robust. Does not hold braille files well Flash Memory No moving parts-less likely to break. Holds more data Cost has decreased significantly over the past 10 years. Cost of flash memory cartridge 10 years ago- $2, GB cartridge today- approximately $4.30

13 Advantages of Digital Flash Drive Superior sound quality Ease of navigation Support for Book Marks Speedier access through internet download site. Portability Holds more data

14 WAR AND PEACE AUDIO VERSION ON CASSETTE VS. …

15 WAR AND PEACE (DIGITAL FLASH CARTRIDGE)

16 PLANNING FOR TRANSITION Titles chosen for Conversion to digital 10,000 analog to digital titles 10,000 retrospective born digital titles Training Network Librarians who will train patrons Pilot Tests of Digital Player-User surveys Prelaunch Tests of Player 5,000 players distributed to 8 regional libraries Timeline for gradual phase out of Cassettes

17 ANALOG TO DIGITAL CONVERSION SCHEDULE

18 Digital Talking Books Program Principles –Development of Player 1. The service must remain free for every eligible user 2. There must be a high degree of user involvement 3. Access to NLS material must be restricted to eligible users to protect copyrights. 4. Focus must remain on the users reading needs.

19 Demonstration of Digital Player Player Talks Multi –level navigation (Chapter, recipe, page) Book Mark capabilities Information- Time, location

20 Digital Talking Book Player, Flash Cartridge, Mailing Container

21 CHALLENGES IN IMPLEMENTATION Aging user population - Reluctant to change Training the trainer Training phase is currently being planned and implemented Delivery of magazines on digital flash memory.

22 CURRENT TIMELINE Prelaunch Phase : March- May ,000 Digital Players distributed. Digital Books made available on flash cartridges. Evaluation of Player, Digital Books, Training. General Launch of Program – May ,000 digital players per month will be manufactured and distributed until 800,000 have been made.

23 THANK YOU! QUESTIONS? CONTACT INFORMATION: MaryBeth Wise PHONE:

24 SOURCES Cookson, J., Cylke, F.K., Dixon, J., Fistick, R., Fitzpatrick, V., Kormann, W., Moodie, M., et al.( July 1998) Digital Talking Books: Planning for the Future. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Washington, D.C. CMLS ( Comprehensive Mailing List System) Database. (NLS/BPH) Cylke, F.K., Moodie, M., Fistick, R. Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped in the United States of America. Library Trends, 55 (4), Majeska, M.L. ( 1988). Talking books: Pioneering and beyond. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Washington, D.C. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. (2003). Strategic Business Plan. Retrieved October 20, 2008 from


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