Machines and Accessories Report No. 04-02

        Date: July 9, 2004

        Subject: National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee recommendations and
        NLS responses, 2004

        Attached are the recommendations made by the National Audio Equipment
        Advisory Committee members at the annual meeting held March 31 - April 2, 2004.
        Following each recommendation is a response by NLS.

        The following members attended the meeting:

        Consumer representatives

        American Council of the Blind                Barry Levine
        Blinded Veterans Association                 Frank Merendino
        National Federation of the Blind                  Aloma Bouma
        Midlands Region                              Irwin Hott
        Southern Region                              Linda Broady-Myers

        Network library representatives

        Midlands Region                              Robert Jones
        Northern Region                              Richard Riddell
        Southern Region                              Teresa Lacy
        Western Region                               Bonnie Olson

        TelecomPioneers representatives

        Midlands Region                              Jerry Adamson
        Northern Region                              Darrell Teske
        Southern Region                              Joseph Bernal
        Western Region                               Stephen Austin

        Elfun representative                         Robert Smith

     2004 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee Recommendations
     from Consumers and NLS Responses

     The consumers recommend that:

     Digital audio magazine issues

     1.   The list of selectable articles be presented as a nested list or other
     easily navigable structure that does not require the screen reader user to
     enable a special mode.

     NLS response (Production Control):

     This request, along with others regarding digital audio magazines, will be
     included in the list of feedback items from pilot testers for consideration in
     the design of future web-magazine distribution systems.

     2.   Each article listed include both the reading time and file size in
     addition to the article title.

     NLS response (Production Control):

     These two items are now listed on the screen of the pilot test.

     3.   The increment skip time in the player be user-definable.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     We will do this and will check user satisfaction with usability testing.

     4.   Markup in magazine articles be to the paragraph level.

     NLS response (Production Control):

     This item will be included in consideration of feedback items from
     pilot testers.

     5.   A  mechanism be developed allowing the user to be able to save
     individual articles and name them with human recognizable names, perhaps
     by means of a save feature in the player.

     NLS response (Production Control):

     This suggestion will be added to the list of desirable features in the
     design/selection of the software player.

     6.   The unpack tool be incorporated into the player so the whole process
     is as transparent to the user as possible.

     NLS response (Production Control):

     This suggestion will be added to the list of desirable features in the
     design/selection of the software player.

     General issues

     7.   NLS develop a guideline for studios to help determine when web
     addresses should be spelled or spoken as words.

     NLS response (Quality Assurance):

     NLS recording studios have instructions to spell web addresses if there
     could be any confusion between the spoken text and the print.  Thus
     "" would be spelled including the fact that the address contains a
     numeral.  However, ""
     would be spoken, not spelled.  Extensions such as ".com", ".org",     and
     ".gov" are spoken.

     8.   NLS make every effort to recruit a physically handicapped consumer
     to serve on this committee.

     NLS response (Consumer Relations Officer):

     An appropriate organization of physically handicapped consumers will be
     identified and an invitation will be sent at the same time that consumer
     organizations of blind persons are contacted.  We note, however, that
     previous efforts to secure the participation of a physically handicapped
     person have been unsuccessful.

     9.   Consumer members of this committee would like to be included early
     in any evaluations and tests of equipment and services related to digital

     NLS response (Consumer Relations Officer):

     NLS considers consumer participation in the design process to be essential.
     The player design solicitation specifically requires usability tests by all
     users:  first and foremost, patrons, then librarians as well as volunteer repair
     persons.  This will be an iterative process spanning prototyping and field
     tests during the next several years.  For near-term evaluations, interested
     consumers have been added to the web-magazine pilot.  Committee
     members will be considered for inclusion in all evaluations and tests.

     Logistic considerations

     10.  NLS provide an outdoor trash can so that dog guide users can
     responsibly clean up after their dogs.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     We have requested that the Administrative Section alert maintenance
     providers to position adequate facilities.

     11.  NLS ensure that the recommended hotel has braille and large-print

     NLS response (Engineering):

     We will ask the hotel to provide braille and large-print menus.

     12.  All materials and demonstrations made available before and during
     committee meetings be provided in accessible format.  This would include
     the use of a screen reader for any demonstration of computer-related items
     such as software packages or web sites.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     We will do this.
     1.   We recommend that NLS continue to investigate alternative methods
     of audiobook delivery, such as Internet, cable, satellite, and telephone lines.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     NLS currently does this through our web-magazine pilot project.  Plans for
     expansion of the project to more titles and more patrons are in preparation.
     Also, a contract for design of a distribution system is to be awarded during
     2004.  The design will include some of the recommended topics, such as
     electronic delivery to distribution centers.  NLS long-term planning includes
     consideration of all of the recommended delivery means.

     2.   We recommend that NLS continue to develop a parts ordering system
     for use by librarians and repair personnel.

     NLS response (Inventory Management Section):

     We will do this.

     3.   We recommend that NLS continue with the idea of the user survey
     and move towards a follow-up study that would help with the transition
     process into digital.

     NLS response (Consumer Relations Officer ):

     It is anticipated that the results of the 2003 NLS Patron Survey will provide
     guidance through the transition process of the next few years.  Smaller,
     more targeted efforts are being considered to provide specific direction on
     cognitive, dexterity, and manipulation issues.

     4.  We recommend that NLS continue to produce books on cassette
     through the period of conversion to digital talking books, so that readers'
     needs are met.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     NLS will do this.  A transition study is presently in progress.  The study will
     include recommendations for ending production of cassette recordings and
     cassette players.

     5.   We recommend that NLS study the feasibility and costs involved in
     the transcription of older books recorded on cassette and record for
      the digital talking book program.

     NLS response (Production Control):

     This project is already underway.  Four contracts were issued in 2004 to
     begin the analog-to-digital (A-D) conversion.  The goal is to have a
     collection of approximately 10,000 A-D converted titles.

     6.   We recommend that NLS make available digital talking-book players
      in a quantity large enough to meet the demand of patrons for the transition
     from cassette to the digital talking book program.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     NLS will do this.  The first production quantity will depend on
     recommendations from the transition study mentioned above, the budget,
     and the economies of scale found in production negotiations.  Estimates at
     this time are about 50,000 units in 2008 and 250,000 in each following year
     until the quantity recommended by the transition study is available.
     7.   We encourage that NLS continue to draft a version of the C-1 Service
     Manual to be placed on the NLS web site so that the current and updated
     issues are easily accessible to the regional libraries, subregional libraries,
     and repair agencies.

     NLS response (Equipment Repair Officer):

     We will do this.

     8.   We would like to commend the NLS staff for responding positively to
     all of the recommendations for the design of the digital talking book player
     and considering the various options in their design process.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     Consumer recommendations are NLS's number one priority.

     9.   We recommend that NLS undertake various ways to promote and
     publicize the digital talking book program.

     NLS response (Publications and Media):

     NLS has promoted and publicized the digital talking book program through
     "Planning for the Future, July 1998"; "Progress to Date, May 2002";
     "Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Books"; and
     __Current Strategic Business Plans for the Implementation of Digital
     Systems,__ December 2003, as well as numerous papers and presenta-tions.
     In addition, most of these documents are available on the NLS web site
     <>.  Many newspapers have carried articles on the digital
     effort, including major feature stories in the__ Washington Post__ and the
     __Washington Times.__  NLS has made numerous press releases and
     presentations to national and regional audiences.
     10.  We recommend that NLS continue to investigate the option of
     providing transportation from not only NLS to the hotel, but also from the
     hotel to NLS.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     We have investigated this, including an experimental trip from the hotel to
     NLS.  Our conclusion is that the arrangement would not be the most
     convenient for members.  Recommend members use cabs, for which they
     are reimbursed.

     11.  We would like to thank John Cookson and the NLS staff for
     presenting another informative and challenging NAEAC meeting.

     NLS response (Engineering):

     You are welcome.
     Volunteer repair recommendations NAEAC 2004

     1.   We endorse the continued pursuit of a solution to the problem of
     mislabeling in repaired and unrepaired machine shipments to and from

     NLS response (Equipment Control Officer):

     NLS will propose a trial of  color-coded labeling at the 2004 national

     2.   We concur that the CBM repair log need no longer be returned to
     NLS for data gathering, but since some shops use the form for internal
     records we suggest that it be continued with the following modifications:

     Reduce the form to two copies;
     Change the instructions to read:  "Top page for local records
     (optional), bottom page for supplying agency (optional)."

     NLS response (Equipment Repair Officer):

     We will do this.

     3.   We recommend the upcoming web-based parts ordering system
     incorporate an item selection page that is based on the diagrams, allowing
     parts identification and selection from those drawings.

     NLS response (Inventory Management):

     We will try to do this.
     4.   We recommend NLS modify the drive kit by eliminating the pressure
     roller spring from the package.  Experience shows that it is a durable part
     that does not need to be replaced with the rest of the drive parts.

     NLS response (Equipment Repair Officer):

     We will do this.

     5.   We wish to thank Carolyn Sung for agreeing to start direct
     acknowledgment of e-mail-based parts orders on April 15.  We understand
     that acknowledgment of fax orders must be reserved for customers who
     need a specific acknowledgment.

     NLS response (Chief, Network Division):

     You are welcome.