Friday, March 7, 2008

Library Takes 'Talking Books' Digital, Washington Post, March 5, 2008

I love this article in the Washington Post. For a couple of reasons. First, I have several friends who are legally blind (which I think is different from "illegally blind"). These kinds of tools help them enormously. It makes me feel like, as a society, we're doing the right things at least sometimes.

But, and perhaps more importantly, I'm thrilled to see this because WE DEVELOPED IT. That's right folks, the excellent programming staff at Retrieval Systems (who pay me) wrote the underlying software for the digital talking book for the Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). So this makes us proud.

We've been doing work in the background for the blind community for many years. Mostly this has involved library data exchange. For both NLS and the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) we wrote bunches of code to help them exchange bibliographic records, supporting creation of a union catalog so that blind patrons could more readily find books. And for NLS we've also developed some production tools to help in the creation of digital talking books.

But the DTB player is something of which we're especially proud. Not only was it technically challenging, it was socially responsive.