Machines and Accessories No. 97-02.
Date:  May 9, 1997
Subject:  National Audio Equipment Advisory
Committee Recommendations and NLS Responses, 1997

Attached are the recommendations made by the
National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee at the
annual meeting held March 12-14, 1997.  Following
each recommendation is a response by NLS.

The following members attended the meeting:

_Consumer representatives_

American Council of the Blind: Carolyn Garrett
Blinded Veterans Association: Corrine Blank
National Federation of the Blind: Bonnie Peterson
Northern Region: John Farina
Western Region: Fred Mansfield

_Network library representatives_

Midlands Region: Cecilia Marlow
Northern Region: Gordon Reddic
Southern Region: Rebecca Sherrill
Western Region: Paul Jacobsen

_Telephone Pioneers representatives_

Midlands Region: Gerald Adamson
Northern Region: Carl Gingrich
Southern Region: J. Walter Alfred
Western Region: Richard Iversen

_Elfuns representative_: Robert A. Smith

For further information contact:

John Cookson, Head
Engineering Section

National Audio Equipment Advisory Committee
March 12-14, 1997

_Consumer representatives recommendations_

1.  Since footnotes have been a major concern to
consumers, we recommend that any future talking-
book technology incorporate a mechanism for
handling footnotes.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

Through the use of the National Information
Standards Organization(NISO)process, the entire
community, particularly patrons, will participate
in the design of future talking books.  The
digital context will allow users to select from a
wide variety of mechanisms for handling footnotes.

2.  Any future talking-book technology should be
able to announce its own serial number.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

The NISO process will enable the entire community,
particularly patrons, to assist in designing
simple and convenient self-identification features
for both books and players.

3.  Any future talking-book technology should
include the ability to spell words on request.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

The NISO process will also help design features
demanded by the community, such as the ability to
spell words on request.  In the long term,
implementation in a future player will depend on

4.  Libraries should be encouraged to include in
their welcome packets for new patrons the serial
number of the machine the patron is being assigned
and information explaining that from time to time
external agencies will be auditing the service and
the patron may be called and asked for the serial
number of the machine.

NLS RESPONSE: (Network Services Section)

This will be done at the regional conference
meetings in 1997.

5.  As cassette magazines are developed, NLS
should produce them so that they are tactually
differentiable from book cassettes when the
cassette is out of its package.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

One tactual difference that we are considering is
putting braille only on the upper portion of the
label.  Other distinguishing features, not
necessarily tactual, that have been suggested
include making magazine cassettes black and making
them without a window.

6.  Packaging of magazines on cassette should be
substantial enough to protect the magazine and
relatively easy to open.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

We collected about ten different kinds of packages
that are used by other organizations for cassette
mailing.  We showed them to a number of users,
including the National Audio Equipment Advisory
Committee consumers, and noted a preference for a
simple, easy-to-open, kraft-paper envelope.  If
this package performs favorably in drop tests and
meets our cost expectations, we will recommend it
for trial use.

7.  We recommend that future equipment be made
more reliable, lightweight, and compact than the
current huge, heavy, herniating cassette machine.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

Enhanced reliability and portability will be
essential traits of future equipment.

8.  NFB and BVA Minority Recommendation: that NLS
revise its current policy allowing libraries to
issue headphones to all patrons who request them.

NLS RESPONSE: (Office of the Director)

NLS will consider all aspects of such a revision
and respond prior to the next National Audio
Equipment Advisory Committee meeting.

_Librarian representatives recommendations_

1.  In response to reports from the network
libraries, we recommend NLS investigate a
perceived increase in C-1 problems that may be a
result of the reduced inspections.  Two specific
problems noted are latch-bar assembly
deterioration and early battery failure.

NLS RESPONSE: (Quality Assurance Section)

NLS has not decreased the inspection levels for
any of our products.  Inspection trips to Telex
have been reduced by six per year but every lot
produced is tested to the same standard and
quality level as in past years.

We did find that latch-bar assembly material
needed to be improved.  The material and
production process was changed to prevent future
problems in this area.  Normal warranty return is
used to remove the machines from circulation for
repair.  Tracking records are reviewed monthly to
keep up with any new problems that arise.

Tracking records for warranty repairs do not
indicate a noticeable change in the number of
defective batteries being reported.  We will
investigate current warranty returns to see if a
pattern has developed.

2.  In support of the overall NLS commitment to
machine repair and maintenance, we recommend

a)  Urgent automation of the material handling and
inventory system, specifically machine-repair

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment and Materials Maintenance

NLS is planning an automated system for parts
inventory and distribution.  In 1996, NLS arranged
to add the parts system to an automated
warehousing system being proposed for the
Contracts and Logistics Services division of the
Library of Congress.  This contract is expected to
be awarded in October 1997 and development will
begin shortly thereafter.

b)  Establishment of the multistate centers as
sole sources for handling and distribution of all
machine supplies.

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment and Materials Maintenance

Presuming that this recommendation includes parts
supply, it was tried several years ago on a trial
basis.  It was discovered that the MSC staff,
being oriented towards warehouse supply and not
trained in machine repair or electronics, could
not provide adequate service for parts supply in
the following areas: complexity of stock, customer
service, and technical assistance.

c)  Produce a catalog of machine supplies to make
ordering easier for volunteers and network

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment and Materials Maintenance

Production of a catalog of parts, tools,
equipment, and supplies related to machine repair
is expected to be a byproduct of the automated
parts distribution system described in #2A.

d)  Tie in disposal labels with return of list or
earlier so that disposal of obsolete and excess
machines may be expedited.

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment Control Officer)

Libraries must request NLS to send them labels.
The ECO will attach labels to each list as

3.  As NLS and the NISO activity proceeds, we are
deeply concerned that specific limitations of
current machines for specific populations may be
carried over, e.g., eliminate speed selection
feature, bolder and larger type on switches,
braille labels on switches, that the device plays
all four sides as does the E-1.  Ideally, some
flexibility in the delivery mechanism should be

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

The NISO process includes representation of all
segments of the NLS constituency.  This input plus
the use of computer simulation to interactively
refine the user interface will address your
concerns regarding control and delivery.

4.  We recommend all returned books be inspected.
Defective books should be marked with a rubber
band around the defective cassette or the cassette
package should have some internal marking but not
correspondence. Alternative methods are welcome,
if neither handwritten correspondence is used nor
the external cassette package is alterated, and if
the method is easier and more successful for
communication by the patron.

NLS RESPONSE: (Consumer Relations Officer)

NLS continues to encourage all network libraries
to fully inspect returned materials, and current
recordings advise patrons to use a rubber band to
mark defective cassettes.

5.  In order to continue to encourage the
development of lifelong readers and in
acknowledgment of service to students in their
learning environments, we recommend continued
support of school deposit collections within the
NLS policy guidelines (established in June 1996)
and with regional and local discretion on
available resources.

NLS RESPONSE: (Network Services Section)

Thank you for your support of the NLS policy on
schools.  However, questions about this policy
have arisen from a number of libraries, so further
input will be solicited at the regional

6.  In recognition of the instances of lost labels
on cassettes and the tremendous diversity,
cultural and otherwise, of current authors, we
recommend the addition of spelled-out author names
and title keywords to the audio front matter of
the cassette.

NLS RESPONSE: (Production Control Section)

We will certainly investigate this further and, if
general consensus seems to be present, implement
the change in procedures.  Our investigation must
involve gathering added opinions on this matter,
since we have also received complaints from
patrons who thought that we had produced a book or
magazine that had actually been narrated elsewhere
and contained spelling of authors' names.

7.  We recommend the inclusion of the footnote
content at the point of reference in the

NLS RESPONSE: (Production Control Section)

Actually, this is our present practice.  Our
instructions to the narrating studios are to
include footnotes where they occur in the text
_unless the inclusion of such note causes
unacceptable breaks in the flow of the text_. The
decision as to whether the flow is interrupted or
not is where opinions vary greatly.  We have
received two letters in the same day's mail with
one decrying the inclusion of footnotes in the
text and the other complaining that they had not
been so included.  We will again remind the
studios to place great emphasis on this decision,
and will try to handle books with footnotes on a
case-by-case basis.

8.  We recommend NLS review the eligible
population percentage to be sure to incorporate
the graying of America, the increase in reading
disabled due to improved diagnostic tools, and
recent discouragement of awareness and public
education activities that may lead to a false
perception of flat or non growth in patron
population. This concern that NLS clearly view the
entire possible patron population is imperative as
we look at new service delivery systems and how we
will serve.

NLS RESPONSE: (Network Division)

NLS will continue to anticipate the growth of the
eligible population.  We continue to ask for
increases in the budget to acquire players and to
strengthen the repair program to ensure that the
players in the field are used to greatest
capacity.  Increases in readership will require
corresponding support of library services at the
local level.  We anticipate that by working
together as a network, we will meet the needs of
future patrons.

9.  We recommend the exploration and use of simple
assistive devices, such as a shim for a variable
speed control or a modified case, as means of
simplifying the current CBMs while waiting for new
delivery mechanisms.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

Because a change of delivery mechanisms is on the
ten-year horizon, we are unlikely to recommend any
changes to current CBMs unless they achieve a
demonstrable savings, involve insignificant risk,
and are earnestly demanded by patrons and their
advocacy groups.

10.  We recommend NLS continue and increase its
focus on the end user, our patrons, as new
technologies are examined, tested, and explored.
Any technology developed must serve the user as
unique and diverse as we see them to be, and
innovative approaches to this service must begin
with what serves the user best.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

We fully support this recommendation and will
implement it through the NISO process described

11.  We support the budget request that will
increase the production of cassette book machines
for 1998.

NLS RESPONSE: (Materials Development Division)

Noted.  We will keep the network informed on the
NLS budget requests to Congress.

12.  We recommend that network libraries label
accessory items as federal government property to
enhance recovery.

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment Control Officer)

In almost all cases these items are marked
"Property of the U.S. Government."

13.  We commend the Volunteer Training and
Recognition Project for the efforts already made.
We recommend continued distribution of training,
follow-up on success and increased repair quality
assurance, and application of repair standards and
quality assurance activities.

NLS RESPONSE: (Chief, Materials Development

NLS commends the volunteers for their diligence in
working the Volunteer Repair Project (VRP) in
1996.  In 1997, a final session will be conducted
in San Antonio, Texas.  In addition, NLS is
developing a VRP repair video for volunteers in
one- and two- man shops, who may not have received
the training.  Of course, the video will made be
available for larger shops, too, as will the VRP
test kits.

In the area of recognition, the VRP project will
continue to recognize Pioneers and Elfuns for
their efforts through ceremonies held at the local
libraries where plaques will be presented.  NLS
has completed 1/2 of the 160 planned plaque
presentations.  In addition, NLS continues to
provide certificates upon request from the
libraries.  Ceremonies scheduled are for Syracuse,
New York; Watertown, Massachusetts; Lincoln,
Nebraska; and other sites.

Concerning VRP communication in 1997, NLS plans to
continue with the Fax-on-Demand project, which
provides instant information on machine-repair
material.  Additionally, all Pioneer and Elfun
workshops should be receiving copies of NLS Update
which has repair stories in it, as well as copies
of the NLS Machine and Accessories Report, which
pertains to repair.

14.  We recommend increased communication among
repair groups to share unique tools, procedures,
and other repair ideas that are likely to be of
benefit to all volunteer repair groups. One
current means is the newsletter _Fully Charged_,
which has a limited circulation.  A possible means
is a website that would offer the newsletter and
allow bulletin board-type exchange of information.
This may be able to be maintained by a single
group or as a project of another volunteer group,
e.g., Eagle Scout.

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment and Materials Maintenance

The _Fully Charged_ newsletter is not an NLS
publication.  This suggestion will be forwarded to
the Telephone Pioneers of America Talking Book
Coordinator chairperson, Ms. Betty Cox, at the
annual meeting this summer.

_Recommendations of the volunteer repair

1.  A prototype amplifier board tester has been
designed and built by Carl Gingrich of the
Allentown, Pennsylvania. Telephone Pioneers.  This
tester is capable of significant board diagnosis
and fault identification.  The tester has an
estimated cost of $200, using commercially
available parts.

NLS can accrue significant savings by using this
tester to quickly confirm board serviceability.
About 50 percent of the 30,000 boards per year are
found to be fault free when returned for repair.
The tester, located at repair sites, can reduce
the "float" of serviceable boards and reduce the
need for new board procurement at approximately
$23 each.

It is recommended that NLS authorize the
procurement of these testers as a cost effective
trade in these days of restrictive budgets.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

We recognize and commend Carl Gingrich for the
initiative and technical expertise that he used in
prototyping the amplifier board tester.
Engineering's preliminary assessment is that it
works well.  Quality Assurance engineers are also
evaluating the unit.  Following this, we will
discuss production, documentation, training,
maintenance, and funding.

2.  We recommend that NLS help maximize the
effective use of repair skills, particularly by
encouraging libraries, where practical, to clean
machines before sending them for repair.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

NLS encourages maximum efficiency in the use of
essential, highly valued volunteer resources,
particularly the technical skills contributed by
Pioneers and Elfuns.  Moreover, NLS recognizes
that "efficiency" involves communicating to
volunteers the importance of their work and how
much they make a difference to patrons.  Because
conditions vary so widely throughout the network,
it is not possible for NLS to specify precisely
how efficiency can be realized in every case.
Implementation is best made at the local level.
With regard to cleaning CBMs, NLS is considering
ways to ease this problem through proposed
modifications to the case.

3.  Retention of volunteer repair personnel is
highly dependent on a constant work load.  The
current status of backorders on repair parts is a
major concern due to potential lack of work

The ultimate solution is an NLS supply that
permits a prompt order fulfillment at a "no back
order" basis.

During periods of parts shortages, repair sites
need some kind of feedback on when the backorder
is to be filled.

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment and Materials Maintenance

The automated system mentioned in Librarians
Recommendation #2 is expected to prevent all back
order conditions resulting from such problems as
human error and fluctuations in demand.  In cases
beyond NLS s control, the system is expected to
provide comprehensive information, including
expected delivery dates.

4.  We recommend that NLS accelerate their
development program for a battery-charging system
that is adaptable to various sized repair

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

We have successfully tested a board-level charger
that could be the basis of a multi-unit charger.
Issues of production, documentation, training,
maintenance, and funding must now be resolved.

5.  NLS's current detailed data-gathering system
for statistical repair information is perceived to
be ineffective due to lack of uniformity as well
as having no useful purpose at NLS.

We recommend that as a cost-avoidance measure,
current reporting be stopped, and that NLS take
the initial step by defining meaningful reporting
criteria to be used by all participants. We also
recommend evaluating the merit of instituting
these revised reporting criteria at selected
high-volume repair sites.

NLS RESPONSE: (Equipment and Materials Maintenance

The EMMC recognizes the validity of the arguments
presented in favor of this recommendation.  This
matter will be brought before the NLS Machine
Committee immediately.

6.  We commend NLS for the efforts put forth in
the Volunteer Repair Project, particularly the
contributions of Brad Kormann, Tom McLaughlin, and
Kevin Watson.

We recommend continued support for the trainers
trained during this project and encouragement and
support for the continuation of their efforts.

NLS RESPONSE: (Materials Development Division)

NLS is truly indebted to its volunteer repair
personnel. Volunteer good works conservatively
saved over $4.2 million last year, which NLS was
able to turn into books for the blind and
physically handicapped people.

7.  We wish to commend NLS for achievements
towards improving the cleanability of CBM's and
recommend that NLS continue to pursue
opportunities to make more improvements.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

We will pursue changes to the case to ease
cleaning.  However, as mentioned above, because a
change of the talking book delivery mechanism is
on the ten-year horizon, we are unlikely to
recommend any changes to current CBMs unless they
achieve a demonstrable savings, involve
insignificant risk, and are earnestly demanded by
patrons and their advocacy groups.

8.  We would like to thank Sheryl Smith for her
professionalism and diligent efforts as hostess
and organizer of this meeting.  We would
particularly like to commend her for arranging for
hotel and travel expenses to be prepaid for this
event, sparing the participants from enduring the
reimbursement process.

NLS RESPONSE: (Engineering Section)

Thank you for the well-deserved commendation.