July 2, 2002 Winners Announced in Digital Talking Book Player Design Competition

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Robert Fistick (202) 707-9279

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in the Library of Congress and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) recently announced the winners in their jointly-sponsored competition to design a Digital Talking Book player.

The student design competition, which began Jan. 1, 2002, was established to give students in IDSA-affiliated schools an opportunity to influence the next generation of audio playback equipment currently being developed by the Library's free national reading program serving blind and physically handicapped readers.

"We are truly pleased with the caliber of the winning entries," said NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke. "The student design competition could result in a unique product that will make books and magazines accessible to hundreds of thousands of people with visual or physical disabilities each year."

A panel of six judges evaluated 146 entries from 28 design schools across the country. Awards went to six students and one faculty advisor. Lachezar Tsvetanov, a senior from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, won first place for his entry titled "Dook." He will be awarded $5,000 at the IDSA national conference in Monterey, Calif., July 20-23. His faculty advisor, Robert Brainard, will received a $2,000 cash award.

"It was great to work on a product addressing the challenges faced by those whose needs are frequently overlooked," said Tsvetanov, a native of Sophia, Bulgaria.

Tsvetanov's winning design resembles a book and opens to reveal a speaker and audio controls. He designed his entry for senior citizens who comprise half of the program's users and may be wary of new technology. He felt that the book format would be inconspicuous, which would also appeal to younger users.

NLS has approximately 730,000 analog cassette talking book playback machines available for use worldwide today and maintains an inventory of more than 23 million copies of audio books and magazines. The effort to convert retrospective titles from analog audio cassttes to digital talking books is expected to be completed in 2008.

Winning entries in the Digital Talking Book player design competition will be analyzed by the Digital Audio Development Committee to determine which features may be incorporated into the final design. The Library's Digital Talking Book player will be introduced in 2008.

A complete overview of NLS's digital conversion project and information about the free talking book program and other services for blind and physically handicapped individuals is available on the NLS Web site at www.loc.gov/nls.

Second and third place award winners

Second Place ($2,000): Christopher Garnaas and Laura Hackbarth, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Entry titled "Nero." Faculty advisors: Pascal Malassigné (IDSA fellow) and Bill O'Dell.

Second Place ($2,000): Anna Mastriano, University of Bridgeport. Entry titled "Book Talk." Faculty advisor: Roy Watson.

Third Place ($1,000): Nicki Kuwahara, California State University, Long Beach. Entry titled "Digital Talking Book." Independent, self-directed project.

Third Place ($1,000): Brian Potempa and Michael Matheau Potempa, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Entry titled "Insight Personal Assistance Device." Faculty advisors: Pascal Malassigné (IDSA fellow) and Bill O'Dell.

Third Place ($1,000): Emilie Williams, North Carolina State University. Entry titled "D1." Faculty advisor: Percy Hooper (IDSA member).


Jim Mueller, IDSA member and chair of the IDSA's Universal Design Professional Interest Section. Mueller is a national advocate of the idea of universal design and coauthor of the seven "Principles of Universal Design" used by competition jurors in evaluating the student entries. His work has been featured in publications by the Design Management Institute, Harvard Business School, IDSA, and numerous government agencies. "The Principles of Universal Design" may be accessed on the IDSA Web site at http://www.idsa.org/whatsnew/sections/udidsa/index.html.

Michael M. Moodie, NLS Research and Development Officer, who recently completed coordination of a five-year effort to develop a new national standard, "Specifications for the Digital Talking Book," ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2002.

Thomas Bickford, a senior reviewer for audio books at NLS. Bickford began reading talking books in 1948 with his first selection, "The Three Musketeers," read by Alexander Scourby and played on hard disks at 33-1/3 rpm using steel needles.

Philip Vlasak, a partner of Personal Computer Systems of Michigan, which creates computer games for blind persons using the Windows operating system. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Until he lost his sight in 1982, Vlasak worked as a designer for a department store chain.

Brian Matt, IDSA member and the founder and CEO of Altitude Inc., a Boston-area product design and development firm with clients including Compaq, Microsoft, 3M, Symbol Technologies and Motorola. He received his bachelor's degree in industrial design from Rochester Institute of Technology. He is a member of the board of directors of the Association of Professional Design Firms, has held various senior IDSA offices, and is an active member of the Design Management Institute.

Sam Leotta, an IDSA member and retired industrial designer who began his career before World War II. During the war, he designed bomber and fighter aircraft. After the war, he established an industrial design firm and for 47 years provided product design, development, engineering, graphics, and office space planning services throughout the country. Leotta's firm has received numerous design awards and patents. In 2000, Leotta assisted in the development and evaluation of IDSA universal design performance measures for products.


PR 02-091
ISSN 0731-3527