[booksandbeyond] Keep the books talking

  • From: "Nancy Lynn" <freespirit52@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Mikes Other Mess" <Mikesmess2@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 03:58:16 -0500

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Chip Hailey" <chailey4@xxxxxxx>
To: "mcb listserve" <missouri-l@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 10:21 PM
Subject: [Missouri-l] Keep the books talking

Keep the Books Talking
Congress should fund the digitization of a vital audio library for
the blind.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A HALF-MILLION Americans stand in danger of losing their public
library. They are the nation's blind, and their library is Talking
Books, through which the National Library Service for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (NLS)
provides 500,000 Americans with free audio recordings of about as
many books. Unlike the "books on tape" that are sold at retail
bookstores, these recordings are unabridged, extensive and diverse
-- and are designed for people who have no other way of reading

Unfortunately, today's Talking Books technology is ready to meet
its maker. The program currently uses half-speed audiotapes that
patrons listen to on special devices. These tape players, like the
Talking Books record players that preceded them, are obsolete, and
are no longer even being manufactured. To bring the program into
the 21st century, the NLS hopes to digitize its entire library and
create new players. It has spent 17 years researching, building
and testing new products, and it is ready to manufacture a fully
accessible flash-drive player. The Library of Congress has asked
Congress to appropriate about $76.4 million to produce the players
and digitize thousands more books.

A forthcoming Government Accountability Office report, however,
may derail the NLS's plans. In a draft version of the report
completed several weeks ago, the GAO faulted the NLS for not
considering existing commercial products such as CD players and
iPods instead of creating a new device. This sounds like a
reasonable concern, given tales of exorbitant government spending
on $792 doormats and $400 hammers. But creating special,
noncommercial players is crucial to the continued existence of
Talking Books. Commercially available products, which often use
visual screens and are not labeled in Braille, are not accessible
to the visually impaired. More important, to comply with U.S.
copyright law, Talking Books can record and distribute only audio
books that cannot be played by commercial devices.

Should the GAO keep this misguided criticism in its final report,
lawmakers should not be swayed by it. Instead, Congress should
fully fund Talking Books' digital upgrade, a project that will
grant many disabled Americans the same literary access afforded to
the sighted.

SOURCE: Washington Post

**Thanks to our friends at Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
for sending us this article**

Other related posts:

  • » [booksandbeyond] Keep the books talking