2006 Conference General Sessions

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David Andrews
Minnesota State Services for the Blind
Address: 2200 University Ave. W., #240
St. Paul MN 55114-1840

Day Phone: 651-642-0513
Fax: 651-649-5927
Email: dandrews@ssb.state.mn.us

We will provide you with a set of questions and considerations, plus information on what is available, which will help you decide which DAISY DTB player is best for you.

With the increased availability of DAISY Digital Talking Books, here in the United States and around the world, I have found that more and more people are asking me: What player/software package should I use?  With at least seven hardware and eight software players on the market and more likely to come, this is a question that deserves some consideration.

I will list the information that will be provided in the CSUN presentation or define the question to be asked when making a decision, because of the space limitations of this paper.  The presentation will provide the opportunity to elaborate on definitions and questions.

First, it is necessary to define “Digital Talking Books and DAISY.”  Next, major sources of DTB’s in the U.S. and around the world will be discussed.

When deciding what to buy, the most important question is whether to go with a dedicated stand-alone hardware player such as the Victor Vibe or PlexTalk PTR-1, or to choose a PC-based software player such as GH Player or Victor Reader Soft.  Once this decision has been made, there is a whole series of questions and factors which should be considered.   These questions and considerations will be listed below:

* What is the source of DTB material:  RFB&D, Bookshare.org, download from NLS, MN SSB, etc.?

* What format will your DTB material be coming in:  CD-ROM, download, etc.?

* Are you playing audio-only books, text-only books, or books that contain both audio and text?

* Will you want to play other kinds of files on your system?

* If so, what kinds, MP3, WAV, etc.?

* Are you a blind or visually impaired person or a learning disabled person?  Are there requirements or limitations that your disability brings to the table when making this decision?

* How much money do you have to spend?
* What are your friends using?  Will they be able to help you figure the thing out if you have problems?

* Does your system need to play back protected books from RFB&D, books from audible.com, or materials from some other unusual source?

* Do you like or need to speed up or slow down your material as you read it?

* What other features do you need or like—sleep timer, word search, book marks, display and synchronization of text, enlarging of text, etc.?

* If you choose a hardware player, how small or large does it need to be?

* Do you need to make recordings or record your own materials in DAISY format?

* Do you need to take notes (either text or audio) as you read?

* Do you need to add other kinds of annotations to the material—bookmarks you voice, annotations you record, etc.?

* What version of DAISY DTB’s do you need to play back—2.02 or 3.0?

* If you choose a software player, does it need to be self-voicing?  (What is self-voicing?)

* If you choose a software player, will your current computer handle it?  If not, what is needed?

* What are the minimum requirements for your desired software player, processor speed, operating system, memory needed, video requirements, etc.?

While all of the available systems have a lot of similarities, many of them also have some unique features.  If one or more of these unique features are important or necessary to you, this may dictate or limit your ultimate universe of choices.

If you are able to answer most, if not all of the above questions, you will be well on the road to making the best decision of a DAISY DTB playback system for yourself.  

Two years ago, I made a presentation titled * at the 2003 CSUN Technology for Persons with Disabilities Conference.  In this paper, I described and reviewed all the DAISY hardware and software players available at the time.  I have continued to update this paper and maintain it on the Web.  I will use this knowledge and experience, during and at the conclusion of the current presentation, to answer questions for the audience about specific products and to show them how the set of questions and considerations can be used to make a decision.

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