[Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the Blind.

Marks, Jim marks at mso.umt.edu
Fri Jun 8 15:31:30 PDT 2007

There's a real danger that the National Library Service of the Library
of Congress will go away if it does not get funding to improve its
technology for talking books. However, like you, Ron, I share the
feeling that the current crisis is, at least in part, a self-inflicted
wound due to the technology development choices that NLS leaders made.
I wish NLS decided to work with the rest of the world in the development
of talking book technology. But they did not, and now we have a crisis
on our hands. Personally, I plan to support Congress's funding NLS
fully, but I wish we could get NLS to pursue more open technology than
they have. It's a real shame that it has come to this, and one can only
hope that all will do the right thing. Congress should fund NLS well,
and NLS should get on board with what other alternate format libraries
are doing. It will be interesting to see if these conditions can

Jim Marks
Director of Disability Services
University of Montana
jim.marks at umontana.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Ron Stewart
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 3:26 PM
To: 'Access Technologists in Higher Education Network'
Subject: [Athen] FW: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the

I have a tendency to stick my foot into sticky things and I also know
that if I respond on any of the blindness lists I would be tarred and

Based on my understanding from a recent trip to Washigton DC and a
couple of conversations with legislative types, the number one issue for
the funding is the fact that the NLS did not use off the shelf
technology or work with any of the exsisting commercial solutions to
build this reader. This has been an issue throughout the development
process on this reader, and to be honest I am not surprised by this at
all. It is becoming more and more of an issues with federal funding of
projects when the project goes off and reinvents the wheel like this.

Anybody want to help me become better informed on the whys and werefores
of this.

Ron Stewart

-----Original Message-----
From: blindnews-bounces at blindprogramming.com
[mailto:blindnews-bounces at blindprogramming.com] On Behalf Of BlindNews
Mailing List
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2007 4:43 PM
To: Blind News
Subject: House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the Blind.

House Subcommittee Vote Could End Books for the Blind.

Author : National Federation of the Blind Earthtimes.org - USA Thu, 07
Jun 2007.

On Wednesday, June 6, the House of Representatives Legislative Branch
Appropriations Subcommittee voted to substantially underfund the Books
for the Blind program of the Library of Congress.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind,
"Since 1931, Congress has consistently supported on a bipartisan basis a
national program of audio and Braille books for the blind, operated by
the Library of Congress. The blind of America are shocked and
disappointed that a House subcommittee has callously disregarded our
literacy needs since literacy leads to independence. By appropriating
only $7.5 million of the
$19.1 million needed for transition from antiquated analog cassette tape
technology to digital technology, the subcommittee has effectively voted
to shut down the only public library available to blind Americans. The
audio books produced by the Library of Congress will be useless unless
the digital playback technology is provided for readers. The Talking
Book program is at a crossroads because the analog tape used for the
past thirty-six years has become obsolete and must be replaced for the
program to continue. Virtually, all government programs, except Books
for the Blind, have converted to state-of-the-art digital communication
technology at a cost of billions of dollars to the taxpayers. Leaving
the Books for the Blind program behind is unconscionable. Since it is
early in the appropriations process, however, Congress still has time to
correct this grievous error. We therefore urgently appeal to the full
House Appropriations Committee, the members of the House of
Representatives, and the United States Senate to provide the full $19.1
million requested by the National Library Service for the Blind and
Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress to begin production of
digital talking books and players."

The Talking Book program serves over 750,000 blind Americans, including
blind children and an ever-increasing number of older Americans who are
losing vision. The incidence of blindness is expected to increase as the
baby boom generation reaches retirement age. Therefore, the need for
this essential program will only increase.

CONTACT: John G. Pare Jr., Director of Public Relations of the National
Federation of the Blind, +1-410-659-9314, extension 2371, Cell:
+1-410-913-3912, jpare at nfb.org

Web site: http://www.nfb.org/


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