IMPROVED ACCESS TO DIGITAL DOWNLOAD BOOKS FOR BLIND AND LOW VISION U.S. CITIZENS
Longueuil, May 25, 2009
On April 30, the National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a division of the Library of Congress in the United States, entered the first phase of its transition to a digital playback system, as well as releasing an upgraded version of its pilot download website. Beginning with the testing of 5,000 digital players by NLS patrons in their homes, NLS is preparing to launch full-scale production and distribution of 26,000 machines per month this year, ensuring continued access to reading materials for more than 500,000 registered users.
New to the NLS program is a state of the art online component, called the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) site. This new site for blind and physically handicapped patrons of NLS now provides better than ever access to digital audiobooks and magazines. The BARD digital books and magazines are in the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 2002 format, the specification for navigable digital talking books. Readers may press buttons on the NLS digital talking-book player and compatible players to jump from chapter to chapter, section to section or page to page. This ability to quickly navigate the book structure, combined with the high-quality human recording, make the new digital NLS download books one of the most significant advancements in the provision of talking books for blind and low vision people.
"The high quality navigable digital books from the new NLS BARD service represent a major advancement in access to books, magazines, and electronic braille for Americans who are unable to read print due to blindness, low vision, or physical disability", says Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare. "With BARD, NLS brings its library into the home of its patrons. Not only do NLS patrons now have access to thousands of digital books but they can find their book of interest and download it in minutes independently and from the comfort of their home computer."
HumanWare manufactures the popular Victor Reader Stream, a DAISY NISO
compatible digital talking-book player designed in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which several thousand NLS patrons already use to play the new digital NISO books. The NLS digital books on the BARD site are protected by encryption and compatible digital book players must be authorized by NLS for eligible patrons to play the books.
The ability to press buttons on the Victor Reader Stream to easily jump between chapters, pages, or magazine articles, like the NLS digital talking-book player, provides a rich audiobook reading experience never before experienced by audiocassette readers. For reference books such as cookery books the user can
even enter a page number from the table of contents on the Stream telephone-style number pad and the playback will move immediately to that page. With the NLS player, Victor Reader Stream, and the NLS BARD books, users now have immediate access to thousands of books and can navigate them just like they would navigate the equivalent print book's structure.
The new BARD download audiobook and magazine service is available free of charge to eligible blind and physically handicapped individuals in the U.S. and to citizens living abroad, who have access to a computer and high-speed Internet connection, and who have a free NLS digital talking-book player or own an authorized compatible digital talking-book player such as HumanWare's Victor Reader Stream. To learn more about the new BARD service visit https://nlsbard.loc.gov/
HumanWare is the global leader in assistive technologies for vision, including products for the blind and visually impaired. HumanWare's products include BrailleNote, the leading productivity device for blind people in education, in business and in their personal lives; the Victor Reader product line, the world's leading digital talking book players; and myReader2, the new version of HumanWare's unique "auto-reader" for people with low vision. For more information visit www.humanware.com
Talking Books are a free public library service for the visually, physically, and reading disabled. The Northeast Georgia Talking Book Center is part of the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Georgia Library for Accessible Services. For more information about our service, please visit our website.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
The New York Times Book Review will now be offered in Braille as well as audio format. This publication will replace the Braille edition of the Washington Post Book World. The Book World is no longer being produced.
Parenting magazine has recently begun to publish as two separate magazines: Parenting: Early Years and Parenting: School Years. Current subscribers will automatically receive both editions unless they contact their library to discontinue one or both editions.
U.S. News & World Report is now publishing their news segments exclusively online and the monthly publication is only a consumer guide. Because of this change, the audio format of U.S. News & World Report can no longer be produced. Subscribers to this magazine will automatically receive the replacement magazine, The Week, a weekly news magazine.
If you are subscribed to any of these magazines and wish to make changes to your account, please call the Talking Book Center at 1-800-531-2063.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
We have one standard player, one advanced player, and one digital book to use as demonstration models. You are welcome to come by the Athens-Clarke County Library and try them out. We will also be setting up presentations in libraries all over our service area, in case you cannot get to Athens. Watch this blog and our summer "Insight" for the dates of these presentations.
We believe we will have players to start distributing to patrons by the beginning of next year. By then, we should have a nice collection of digital books for you to choose from. The first players will be given to veterans, as required by law. After all interested veterans receive a digital player, we will give them out through a lottery system. If you would like to have your name entered into the lottery pool, please let us know. (Patrons who returned surveys indicating they would like a digital machine have already been placed on the list).
If you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-531-2063.
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