Marsha Valance from the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped talked about the new device for blind readers. The new device will begin arriving in mid-2008 for digital talking book machine.
Priority is for veterans, centenarians, and students. It will be 2012 before everyone gets the new hardware. They will maintain cassettes as a format until 2012.
The hardware is 2/3 the size as cassette player. The digital device is about the same size as a cassette with whole in one end to both distinguish end, and for the device to be removed from machine. It weighs only 2 pounds compared to the current 7 pounds. The battery life is now up to 23 hours. You can place up to 1,000 bookmarks. If you push a button on the machine, and nothing is in the machine, it will tell you what that button does.
They are not using the MP3 format, instead they use AMR-WB+. An entire book will fit on a single chip. There will be no more flipping sides. A VictorReader Stream will play NLS digital talking books, and content can be downloaded. A VictorReader Stream costs about $300. IT is sold by HumanWare.
Must join the Library for the Blind. Can sign in to download. User name is the person's email address. Contact by phone (800/242.8822) or email email@example.com. You can also visit the web site.
The presenter talked about other items available widely on the web. These include Overdrive, Playaways, Baen Free Library, Guttenburg. She also covered the Web Accessibility Initiative. and Section 508.
The web site for the Library has a great page of links for blind readers.