Braille Book Review

September-October 2008

In Brief

The following information is reprinted from an issue of NLS Flash, a newsletter created to bring current information on NLS progress in digital technology to patrons, library staff, and other interested individuals.

NLS Flash
July 2008

volume 4 issue 2

Contracts awarded for digital talking-book player, cartridge mailing container, and training

On behalf of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the Library of Congress has awarded contracts for three critical elements necessary for implementation of the digital talking-book system. Shinano Kenshi Corporation Ltd. of Japan and its subsidiary Plextor-LLC of Culver City, California, will produce the digital talking-book players; LC Industries in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, will produce the digital talking-book cartridge mailing containers; and SI International in Reston, Virginia, will develop training strategies for the network of cooperating libraries. The award of the cartridge contract is pending.

Digital talking-book players

Shinano Kenshi/Plextor will produce the standard and advanced digital talking-book players. Plextor, the electronic equipment division of Shinano Kenshi, produces the Plextalk line of DAISY talking-book players and other computer components including players for compact discs (CDs), DVDs, and Blu Ray discs.

The player contract's base period is for three years with a unilateral government option of an additional four years. More than $35 million has been obligated to fund the initial production of 223,837 players. The first players will be manufactured in late 2008.

Digital talking-book cartridge mailing containers

LC Industries, a Javits-Wagner-O'Day contractor, has produced injection-molded plastic mailing containers used by NLS for more than 15 years. The company will initially produce 500,000 blue plastic mailing containers for digital talking books. NLS is working out details regarding the network purchase of the mailing containers and will notify the network when the containers are available for purchase.

Training contract

SI International has designed training applications for deployment over the Internet since 1998. NLS has engaged the company to assist with preparing strategies for training the staffs of the 128 cooperating libraries serving blind and physically handicapped readers throughout the country and in U.S. territories. SI International will gather information to recommend training models appropriate for preparing library staff to handle three specific tasks: using and explaining the digital talking-book machine; downloading digital talking books and signing up patrons for the download project, NLS BARD; and duplicating digital talking books at the local level.

The goal is to provide a variety of training materials for each task and to identify the best methods of delivery. The materials will be designed to assist current and future network library staffs.


The following announcement may be of interest to readers. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped reserves the right to publish announcements selectively, as space permits. The item mentioned, however, is not part of the NLS program, and its listing does not imply endorsement. offers free text reader for visually impaired students

At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, visually impaired students with access to the Internet on a Windows PC will be able to use the free Read:OutLoud, Edition, text reader to access the more than thirty-six thousand electronic books, magazines, and newspapers available in the online library. Memberships to are now free to all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities. This software tool was designed to serve elementary and secondary students who receive special education services and qualify for free reading materials under the 1996 Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Law. The text reader was designed to align with state educational standards and provides audio feedback, electronic highlighting, and note-taking features. A Macintosh version of the text reader will be introduced in 2009. For more information, visit

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