2001 Conference Proceedings

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Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic
Countdown to Our Launch of Digital Talking Books

RFB&D 50th. Anniversary Logo

Author: Kathleen T. Malloy
Sales Supervisor, Marketing Department
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
609-243-7053
E-mail: kmalloy@rfbd.org 

Presenter: Kathie Korpolinski
Director of Marketing and product Development
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
609-243-7095
E-mail: kkorpolinski@rfbd.org

Abstract

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), a non-profit organization headquartered in princeton, New Jersey, is the nation's largest provider of textbooks and educational materials in accessible formats for students of all ages with print disabilities such as visual impairments or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. This session will describe RFB&D's transition from the current analog taped textbooks to our new Digital Talking Book (DTB) technology.

An overview of RFB&D's pre-release plan, types of digital textbooks, testing results and plan for this year's final launch of digital technology will be discussed.

Roll out plan for RFB&D's Digital Talking Book product Line

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), a nonprofit organization is the nation's leading provider of textbooks and educational materials in accessible formats for students of all ages with print disabilities due to visual impairments and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Founded in 1948, RFB&D's Library of 80,000 recorded textbooks serves more than 90,000 students across the country.

Current analog recording products are becoming obsolete, making it necessary to shift technologies, media and distribution from analog to digital format. The advent of new recording and digital technology, and rapidly evolving market demand, presents RFB&D with the opportunity to serve its members even more effectively.

RFB&D will begin distribution of our collection in digital formats, and is officially announcing pre-release of its digital audio textbooks and transition from analog technology. Final release is scheduled for October 2001.

RFB&D is developing a family of Digital Talking Books. This includes digitized text; human audio text and a combination of both with varying levels of navigation capability built into each book. RFB&D continues to create new digital recordings while simultaneously converting the highest circulating titles from our existing 80,000 analog text library into a digital format using the standard set internationally by the Digital Audio-based Information SYstem (DAISY) consortium and nationally by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). DAISY format provides full accessibility through a worldwide standard for synchronized text and digitally recorded human speech. These Digital Talking Books combines a powerful navigation center providing instant access to chapters, headings and page numbers.

As part of the three-year roll out of Digital Audio, RFB&D's product development strategy includes several programs designed to obtain ongoing consumer feedback. This consumer input provides an excellent vehicle to ensure the development of products and services the consumers need and want.

Since October 1998 the United States Department of Commerce, Technical Opportunities program (TOp) has partially funded five school test sites from grade school to college level throughout the country. This project directly aids RFB&D with feedback in ongoing efforts to improve usability of textbooks for students with print-related disabilities.

The Digital Talking Books that include digital audio are being tested on stand-alone digital players and on pC's loaded with playback software. The pC based playback systems support synchronized digital text and audio playback providing a powerful multi modal reading experience for students with learning disabilities and visual impairments.


The three different types of digital formats that the students are testing include:

RFB&D's pre-release plan began October 2000 with internal training of staff on all aspects of digital audio and its implementation. Ten additional test sites were identified across the country by the end of November. During the months December through February material for site preparation was finalized and training sessions conducted in each test site by RFB&D staff. The use of the playback systems and our products in classrooms, follow-up visits, and interaction with other sites will continue. Feedback will be collected, compiled, and annalized to determine how to meet the consumer's needs more effectively.

The official launch of our digital audio collection will take place in October 2001. Thousands of titles will be available in RFB&D's new digital library to the RFB&D membership. You should attend our session at the CSUN conference to get the most current information. Do not forget to bookmark our web site for the latest information on the status of the digital age of electronic textbooks that will mark the next fifty years of RFB&D services by visiting http://www.rfbd.org/.


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