& Accessories

National Library Service

for the Blind and The Library of Congress

Physically Handicapped Washington, DC 20542


No. : 11-04 


Date : September 9, 2011


Subject: National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee recommendations and NLS

responses, 2010


Attached are the recommendations made by the National Audio Equipment


Advisory Committee (NAEAC) members at the annual meeting held

September 15–17, 2010. Following each recommendation is the NLS





For further information contact: John A. Brown

Head, Engineering Section

[log in to unmask]



National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee Members


Consumer representatives

American Council of the Blind Penny Reeder

Blinded Veterans Association Stephen Matthews

National Federation of the Blind Michael Barber

Northern Region John L. Jackson

Western Region Everette Bacon


Network library representatives

Southern Region Pamela Davenport

Northern Region Bernard Harrison

Midlands Region James Buchman

Western Region Amy Ravenholt


Pioneer representatives

Midlands Region Jerry Adamson

Northern Region Joseph Hodgson

Southern Region James Marriner

Western Region Stephen Austin


General Electric Elfun representative

Keith Scammahorn



2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Network Library Representatives and

NLS Responses

1. We commend NLS on the smooth transition to the digital player. We also

want to commend NLS on how well the player works and how easily patrons

have embraced the new technology. As a committee we didn’t come with a

list of complaints to be considered, but instead came with many compliments

and some suggestions.

NLS response (Director):

Thank you.

2. We commend NLS on the great progress that has been made with the BARD

system. We ask that you continue to investigate and improve download speed

in more distant areas, especially western and midwestern regions.

NLS response (Automation):

We are currently investigating this issue.

3. Since BARD has been in operation for over a year, we suggest that NLS

conduct a customer survey to find out exactly how BARD is working for the

patron and how it can be improved.

NLS response (Automation):

We receive comments and feedback on an almost daily basis from patrons via

our BARD e-mail support address, [log in to unmask] These items are

logged, and responses are provided to patrons if a message requires one.

Once the BARD system is fully developed and all NLS network libraries have

taken over BARD administration, we will look into performing such a survey.

4. We suggest that a link be added from the BARD website to Voyager for

users who want a more complex search.

NLS response (Automation):

We will examine the best way to do this. Look for an implementation of this

feature in the near future.



2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Network Library Representatives and

NLS Responses

5. We recommend that BARD provide more access points to find firmware

upgrades. For example, list upgrades under Most Recently Added, and

make it available—like a book—through a keyword search.

NLS response (Automation):

We are looking into how this could be done without confusing patrons.

It is likely we will make improvements in notification and the structure

of the firmware upgrade notice in the near future.

6. We suggest patrons have the ability to see their “has-hads” on the BARD website.

NLS response (Automation):

This continues to be under consideration.

7. We are pleased that NLS is transitioning the magazines to the digital

cartridges. We encourage NLS to continue to pursue the rapid transition of

magazines as a priority for the coming year. We further recommend that locally

produced magazines meeting multistate quality-assurance standards be placed

on the BARD website.

NLS response (Production Control):

NLS is investigating various scenarios regarding the transition of NLS

magazines to DTB format. Distribution on flash cartridge remains a


NLS response (Quality Assurance):

This will be investigated.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Network Library Representatives and

NLS Responses

8. We suggest that more children’s materials be made available on cartridges.

This is especially important because there is a renewed sense of interest by

younger users and will help to promote lifelong readers.

NLS response (Collection Development):

Collection Development staff are pleased to hear that younger readers are

enjoying digital talking books. Since January 2009 all new books selected by

NLS librarians for audio production have been marked for issue as digital

cartridges. Starting in 2004 and thereafter, all audiobooks have been digitally

mastered. An analog-to-digital conversion project that identified ten thousand

analog cassette books for conversion to digital audio has been in progress since

2004 and has been supplemented this year with a contract for sixteen hundred

more titles. Another sixteen hundred titles will follow until all appropriate analog

titles in the NLS back catalog have been converted. Children’s and young adult

materials have been proportionately included in annual selections at the rates of

approximately 20 and 8 percent respectively, as well as in retrospective selections.

In establishing priorities for the conversion of older titles for children, prizewinners

such as Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor books have been chosen

as well as time-honored children’s classics.

9. We suggest that NLS consider providing straps for the digital players. Straps

could be issued only upon request, and could be a great way to market the NLS


NLS response (Engineering):

NLS will investigate the possibility of providing straps to the digital player as


10. The world is becoming more mobile and patrons want to take advantage of this

technology. As such we encourage NLS to find secure ways to support digital

books on portable devices.

NLS response (Engineering):

NLS is constantly evaluating new technologies and their applications to improve

the talking-book program. As mobile devices and their security standards

continue to evolve, NLS will evaluate them for use in the program.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Network Library Representatives and

NLS Responses

11. We recommend NLS upgrade the player’s User Guide to include instructions for

using the Bookshelf function.

NLS response (Materials Development):

This has been done.

12. We want to express thanks to NLS for inviting us and making this such an

enjoyable event. A special thank you is extended to John Brown and Carolyn


NLS response (Engineering):

You are welcome.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Consumers and NLS Responses and

NLS Responses

1. In order to facilitate more broad-based consumer input in a manner

similar to that employed by the Collection Development Advisory

Group, we recommend that NLS solicit representatives for the NAEAC

far enough in advance that their names and contact information can be

published in Talking Book Topics and posted to the BARD-discuss listserv.

NLS response (Engineering):

NLS will investigate the possibility of publishing and posting committee

members information.

2. We recommend that, as the BARD website adds braille to its offerings,

selection of braille, audio, or both media should be a usersettable preference.

NLS response (Automation):

This will be implemented when Web-Braille is brought into BARD,

which is planned for 2011.

3. We recommend that text-to-speech be added to the NLS player, to facilitate

the playing of structured text from sources such as NFB Newsline and


NLS response (Materials Development):

NLS is exploring this enchancement to the NLS player. Text-to-speech

complexity, footprint, quality, and licensing costs must be considered.

4. We recommend that an article be published for wide distribution by

NLS, which summarizes the rapidly evolving state of the transition

from cassette to digital books, written in such a manner as to produce

as little anxiety as possible, but emphasizing that older cassette titles

continue to be available.

NLS response (Publication and Media Section):

This has been done through the publication of the newsletter Flash,

which documented the transition through the launch. The newsletter

is now published when something newsworthy occurs.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Consumers and NLS Responses and

NLS Responses

5. We recommend that an adapter be developed that allows the NLS

player to interface directly with SD cards through its cartridge port.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

NLS has determined that demand for such a device among our patrons would

be low at this time. NLS recommends the purchase of a third-party cartridge

as a personal storage device for NLS books.

6. We recommend that a list of flash drives compatible with the NLS player be

created, maintained, and posted by NLS.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

Because of the widespread adoption of flash technology by an array of

manufacturers, creating and accurately maintaining such a list is not

possible at this time.

NLS briefly attempted this but quickly discovered inconsistencies among

manufacturers’ devices. A lack of detailed manufacturer specifications

coupled with the volume of different models available at any given time

prevents such a list from reflecting up-to-date information.

7. In order to prevent accidental movement from one part of a book to another,

we recommend that there be a procedure for locking and unlocking the keys

on the NLS player.

NLS response (Materials Development):

This was considered during the design; however, we did not find a satisfactory

method that balanced ease of operation with prevention from inadvertent

application. NLS engineering will take another look to see if a solution can be



2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Consumers and NLS Responses and

NLS Responses

8. In order to permit users to mark and return to specific places in a book

when a large number of bookmarks have been set, we recommend that

NLS explore the feasibility of allowing users to navigate to bookmarks by

number. The player would assign unchanging numbers as bookmarks are

entered, and these numbers would be announced as the user navigates to them.

The number announcement could replace the time announcement that the player

currently provides.

NLS response (Materials Development):

The problem occurs when bookmarks are deleted and reinserted. Do the

bookmarks get renumbered? Do the bookmarks get reused? The issue is

not as straightforward as it initially seems, but the problem will be considered

with a low priority.

9. We recommend that NLS reinstitute the “has had” feature on the BARD website.

NLS response (Automation):

This continues to be under consideration.

10. We reiterate that there should be a means for securing the remote control to

prevent it from being accidently dropped.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

The remote control being developed by NLS will have the ability to be secured

by a lanyard clip.

11. To facilitate navigation in books with no significant markup, we recommend

that the longest skip increment in fast-forward and rewind modes be reduced

from one hour to thirty minutes. In addition, we recommend that a “time jump”

level be added to the advanced player’s navigation-menu key. The length of

the jump could be configurable.

NLS response (Materials Development):

These issues were examined in detail during the design phase. Many aspects

of usability were traded off, including discoverability, complexity, and usability.

The current scheme was determined to give the best balance. Books now being

converted from analog to digital will have more markup, which will help.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Consumers and NLS Responses and

NLS Responses

12. The committee would like to see page numbers in all books. In order

to move toward this goal, we would like to know whether there is a

trade-off between the addition of page-number markup and the number

of audiobooks produced by NLS, and the magnitude of this trade-off.

NLS response (Materials Development):

NLS will mark appropriate books with page numbers. There is little point

in marking up books with no reference to pages. Page markup is expensive

and would incur a waste of resources that would otherwise be used to

produce more books.

NLS response (Production Control):

With present production systems, adding page numbers to every digital

book would decrease the number of titles produced by 15–25 percent,

depending on the mix of books. Our present procedures call for page

numbers only on specific titles (e.g., cookbooks) where this feature is

considered necessary. If page numbers on every book (including novels)

is deemed necessary, new production systems could be developed, but the

development costs must be justified by the need.

13. The consumer subcommittee wishes to express its appreciation to the NLS

staff, especially Lloyd Rasmussen, Judy Dixon, and Carolyn Proctor, for their

assistance during our deliberative process.

NLS response (The above):

You are quite welcome.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Volunteer Repair Committee

and NLS Responses


1. Establish an e-group for volunteers centered on DTBM repair.

NLS responses (Engineering Section):

NLS will investigate establishment of an e-group for volunteer repair in

addition to other forms of electrical communication to maintain current

DTBM-repair information.


2. Develop, produce, and distribute DTBM-specific training material,

preferably in video format.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

NLS has developed training materials, available online at

nls/digitalbooktraining, which cover basic aspects of inspection and maintenance.

In addition to this existing material, NLS is working on the production of video

clips demonstrating various repair procedures. When complete, these clips will

be available online at


3. Monitor DTBM failure rates and consider the establishment of regional/

centralized repair center(s) for DTBMs if the quantities and rates do not

warrant maintaining local repair facilities. The need for PC’s to be determined

at this time.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

NLS is currently tracking the repair activities of machines that are returned for

warranty repair. This information will be used to determine how best to manage

repair operations for machines once the warranty has expired. Until the scope of

non-warranty repairs becomes clear, MLAs will be asked to send machines for

non-warranty repair to their established repair groups, and NLS will provide

the parts and tools necessary to service the machine.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Volunteer Repair Committee

and NLS Responses


4. When replacing circuit boards in the DTBM, repair technicians will need to

enter machine serial numbers into the memory. There appears to be no

mechanism for doing this and that needs to be added.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

At this time, NLS does not envision a need for repair groups to replace circuit

boards in the machines. However, should the need arise in the future, there is a

software-controlled procedure for setting the serial number on a circuit board.


5. There are several updates needed in the DTBM service manual, including

documentation of the spacer between USB harnesses, speaker removal and

replacement, and recent updates with serial number correlation, as in the C1

Effectivity List (C1 Service Manual).

NLS response (Engineering Section):

NLS is compiling a list of changes to the service manual for inclusion in the

next revision. Repair groups will be notified when the next revision is



6. Are USB plugs going to be required in the side USB ports? If so, will NLS

be able to meet the demand for them, since this is likely to be a high-volume

replacement part.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

The AT-port cover will be required for successful checkout of a machine prior

to being issued to a patron. NLS will maintain a sufficient stock level of this part

to fill demand.


2010 National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee

Recommendations from Volunteer Repair Committee

and NLS Responses


7. Supply repair groups with magnifier lamps for use in inspection of both C1

and DTB machines.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

Table-mounted magnifying lamps are currently available from NLS. Because

of the limited supply we ask groups to request only one lamp per shop.


8. Please schedule next year’s NAEAC meeting in September—this seems to be

the ideal timeframe for this meeting.

NLS response (Engineering Section):

NLS agrees and will make every effort to keep the meeting in September.


9. Please investigate the use of the LC shuttle for morning as well as afternoon

transportation between the hotel and NLS. This might result in a cost savings.

NLS response (Materials Development):

This was recommended at the April 2003 meeting. Unfortunately, it presents a

number of problems. At the request of NLS, the LC Transportation unit did a

dry run approximately two weeks prior to the meeting from the Courtyard by

Marriott to NLS, which determined that the shuttle driver would have to leave

the main building on Capitol Hill before 7:00 a.m. to arrive at the hotel by at least

7:30 a.m., requiring NLS to pay the driver overtime for three days in the morning

and two days in the afternoon. In addition, the travel time from the hotel to

NLS was approximately ninety minutes. All NAEAC members who use the

hotel are reimbursed for travel costs from the hotel to NLS. The alternative is

to use a hotel on Capitol Hill, near the main building; however, NLS would still

incur the overtime costs for the morning and afternoon.

10. Congratulations to the NLS staff for a successful project. We believe the DTBM

will serve our patrons well.

NLS response (Director):

Thank you.