November 3, 2010 Braille Institute Creates Cylke Digital Platinum Award

Contact: Jane Caulton (202) 707-0521

In a tribute to the advent of digital talking books and players for blind and physically handicapped readers—and to the man who ushered in the new medium—Braille Institute Library Services (BILS) in Los Angeles presented the first Frank Kurt Cylke Digital Platinum Awards during its annual open house on Oct. 22.

BILS Director Henry C. Chang and Open House Committee Chair Tina Herbison presented the inaugural award to its namesake Frank Kurt Cylke, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, “for 37 years of unwavering leadership and commitment to the blind and visually impaired communities throughout the United States.”

The new award recognizes the NLS transition from cassette books and machines to digital talking books on flash-memory cartridges and two models of digital players. The system, launched in 2009, features high-quality sound, variable speed control, a built-in audio instruction manual, advanced navigation, and an incremental sleep button.

“I thank Dr. Chang and the Braille Institute Library Services for the recognition,” said Cylke. “But the real reward is seeing the joyful reception of this new equipment by blind and physically handicapped readers.”

The Digital Platinum Award, which replaces the BILS Golden Cassette Award, is given to outstanding individuals and organizations in the library community. Other honorees included:

&bull Marshall High School student Karen Acros-Moreno, a BILS patron since age four, who is a volunteer for the Blind Children’s Center and for the Los Angeles Marathon’s 5K on behalf of blind children.

&bull Vernon, Jim, and Jarod Laub—three generations of volunteers who have donated many hours at the BILS Orange County Branch. Vernon is a volunteer and a patron; his son Jim and his grandson Jarod are machine-repair volunteers.

Designed by Herbison and BILS Open House Committee members Kokoi Aryee, Siran Aytayan, and Alex Cruz and manufactured by Cristaux International in Chicago, the award is made of crystal and represents a stack of three digital-book containers with a digital cartridge balanced on top.

The Braille Institute was established in 1919 as Universal Braille Press and was instrumental in advocating federal legislation to fund the printing and national distribution of raised-print materials through the Library of Congress Services for the Blind. The agency was one of four presses that produced the first braille titles for NLS after the free library service was established in 1931. Today BILS, a subsidiary of Braille Institute, serves more than 75,000 blind and physically handicapped individuals at five regional centers and through more than 350 community-outreach locations in Southern California.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, administers the braille and digital talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical handicap makes reading a regular printed page difficult. Through its national network of regional libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in digital audio and in braille, as well as digital audio equipment, directly to enrollees at no cost. Select materials are also available online for download and music instructional materials are available in large print, braille, and recorded formats. For further information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).


PR 10-252
ISSN 0731-3527