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NLS Press Release

New Design For Digital Talking-Book Player Boasts Ease Of Use

For immediate release
January 24, 2006
Contact: Robert E. Fistick
(202) 707-9279 or rfis@loc.gov

Heavily-tested design meets needs of blind and physically handicapped users and librarians

The findings of a recent usability test helped the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, confirm the overall design of the basic model of its digital talking-book machine. Cited as easy-to-use by patrons and librarians, the approved design will undergo minor revisions and further testing to fine tune the system before its debut in 2008.

"The test conclusions represent a major advancement in our digital transition," says Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. "Extensive work has gone into developing and testing a basic player that is suitable for all users. We're pleased with the outcome and believe that our patrons will appreciate it as well."

The player will feature a center insertion method that allows cartridges to be inserted much like a debit card would be inserted into an automated teller machine. Also decided were cartridge design and label concepts. Labels will feature both braille and thirty-six point type for maximum legibility.

Tests were conducted in Boston, Cleveland, and Madison, Wisconsin with assistance from the National Federation of the Blind and the Trace Research and Development Center of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Patrons of various ages and abilities participated and library personnel were interviewed on how effectively the player and cartridge models met their needs. Users performed common first-time tasks on working models of the player. Tests were structured for patrons with both basic and advanced reading skills and simulated environments in which patrons would receive operating guidance such as a user manual or personal assistance from a friend or family member.

"Users were asked to test many aspects of the DTB system because the design is still being refined," notes Michael Moodie, NLS deputy director. "Key decisions are being made as needed. The more patron and librarian input we receive, the more effective our solutions will be."

More than 23 million copies of recorded and braille books and magazines were circulated to a readership of 799,718 in 2004. The International Union Catalog provides access to 423,500 titles (19 million copies). Audiobook readers borrow an average of 31 books and magazines a year. Braille readers average 20 books and magazines a year.

An overview of the NLS digital talking-book project may be found in Current Strategic Business Plan for the Implementation of Digital Systems at www.loc.gov/nls/businessplan/2003.html. For enrollment information, visit www.loc.gov/nls or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

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Posted on 2011-01-10