Talking Books for the Blind

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Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a part of the Library of Congress, operates a free national talking (audio) book program for qualified blind, visually impaired, or physically disabled residents of the United States and its territories, as well as qualified U.S. citizens residing abroad. NLS produces and distributes analog cassette players and talking books and periodicals recorded on audio cassettes to approximately 434,000 individual subscribers and 33,000 institutions through a network of 132 participating libraries and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. June 12, 2007.

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Description

Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a part of the Library of Congress, operates a free national talking (audio) book program for qualified blind, visually impaired, or physically disabled residents of the United States and its territories, as well as qualified U.S. citizens residing abroad. NLS produces and distributes analog cassette players and talking books and periodicals recorded on audio cassettes to approximately 434,000 individual subscribers and 33,000 institutions through a network of 132 participating libraries and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In the 1990s, NLS recognized that analog audio cassette technology was becoming outdated and nearing the end of its useful life and initiated efforts to plan for a new, digitally based talking book system. NLS analyzed three alternatives for the system--CD, hard drive, and flash based media--and chose to award a contract for the development of a digital talking book system based on flash memory media. The development phase is now nearing completion, and NLS is planning to award the manufacturing contract for the digital talking book system in August 2007. Under U.S. copyright law, NLS is authorized to reproduce and distribute talking books without copyright infringement as long as they are produced in a specialized format exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities. The standard describing the specialized format for digital talking books is maintained by the Digital Audio-Based Information System (DAISY) consortium--an international organization established to develop specifications and tools for digital talking books--and accordingly is commonly known as the Daisy standard. The digital talking book project is a significant system development and acquisition investment. NLS estimates the 5-year (2007-2011) cost of the program, including the player and media acquisition, to be about $174 million. Over this same time period, NLS plans to continue the cassette-based talking book program, whose cost is estimated at about $44 million. The 5-year cost of the combined digital talking book and cassette programs is about $218 million. The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations asked us to review NLS planning and management of its digital talking book development and acquisition project. Specifically, our objectives were to determine to what extent NLS (1) performed sufficient analyses to select technologies for the next generation of the talking book system and (2) effectively managed the development of the selected digital talking book technology and mode of distribution."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • June 12, 2007

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Talking Books for the Blind, text, June 12, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298839/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.