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[IP] New service for Blind and visually impaired people ( pumpers)-long

>From an RFB&D news release:

Textbooks Go Digital for Students with Visual Impairments, Learning 
Disabilities   New accessible collection offers unprecedented access to the 
country's most widely read textbooks for more than 102,000 students of all 

29 August, 2002 (Princeton, NJ) - Students who have visual impairments or 
severe learning disabilities will have unprecedented access to the contents 
of textbooks and other educational materials with the nationwide (September 
3, 2002) release of digitally recorded textbooks on CD from Recording for the 
Blind & DyslexicB. (RFB&DB.). 

An inaugural collection of more than 6,000 digitally recorded educational 
titles, ranging from Harry Potter to Systems of Psychotherapy: a 
Transtheoretical Analysis, will be added to RFB&D's unique collection of 
91,000 accessible textbooks - the largest collection of its kind in the 

For more than 50 years, RFB&D, a nonprofit organization, has been the 
nation's largest educational library for students who are blind, visually 
impaired or who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia.  

"RFB&D's AudioPlusb" digitally recorded textbooks are a long-awaited 
innovation in reading technology for people with disabilities who cannot read 
standard print effectively," says RFB&D President & CEO Richard O. Scribner. 
"They level the playing field for students with disabilities because they 
offer functionalities that significantly enhance the ability to study and 

To listen to RFB&D's AudioPlus textbooks, students need a portable CD player 
equipped to play RFB&D's books or a standard multimedia computer equipped 
with a CD-ROM drive and specialized software. Playback hardware and software 
will be available through RFB&D for nonprofit sale.

"RFB&D's AudioPlus books are changing the way blind and visually impaired 
persons read 
textbooks by providing a high-quality audio output of books that have been 
read by experts in the respective fields. The technology, combined with the 
human voice, allows for the highest quality of audiobook ever produced 
previously," says Cary Supalo of Bolingbrook, IL, who is pursuing graduate 
studies in chemistry at Pennsylvania State University.  

Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mount Everest, is an 
enthusiastic supporter of digitally recorded textbooks from RFB&D. "I embrace 
the technology. It's a system that will help people be more efficient and 
more productive, and blind people definitely need every advantage."

?RFB&D's digitally recorded textbooks on CD allow instant access to any page, 
chapter or subheading in a book with the touch of a button - there is no need 
to fast-forward through and count embedded beep tones as is done with books 
recorded on analog cassette tape. 

The CDs hold more than 40 hours of recorded material. Therefore, the contents 
of a standard textbook, which requires eight to 12 RFB&D cassettes, will now 
fit onto a single CD. Portability, ease of navigation and bookmarking 
capabilities make digitally recorded textbooks from RFB&D more effective 
study tools for students with print disabilities

"Over the course of its history, RFB&D has transitioned its technology to 
keep pace with the needs of its members and evolving technologies. RFB&D 
updated its library from vinyl disks to reel-to-reel tapes, then to the 
analog cassette tapes and electronic text that now comprise its complete 
collection," says Scribner. "These recorded books are available to RFB&D's 
102,000 members in kindergarten through graduate school, and to any other 
student with a certified disability that makes reading difficult or 

RFB&D's AudioPlus digitally recorded textbooks have already been used in 89 
schools nationwide that took part in a pre-release pilot program. The 
students and educators participating in RFB&D's pre-release product placement 
program provided important feedback about the use of RFB&D's AudioPlus 
textbooks, and their input has been used to continue to refine and enhance 
this technology.  

Vivian Shelton, a teacher at North Dade (FL) Middle School who has been 
piloting RFB&D's AudioPlus in her classroom, said, "I have seen my kids 
motivated through digital audio [recordings]. When you work with kids who are 
underachievers, reluctant readers, reluctant learnersb&when you see them 
excited and learning, it's an awesome sight."

RFB&D has been outfitting its 32 studios nationwide with new digital 
recording facilities and training its 5,400 volunteers in the digital 
recording process. As the transition continues, RFB&D is converting the most 
frequently requested recorded textbooks in its CV Starr Learning Through 
Listeningb" Library in the Princeton, NJ, headquarters to digital format. RFB&
D's Classic Cassettesb" will also remain available as long as there is a 
demand for them. Offering RFB&D's AudioPlus digitally recorded textbooks is 
just another way for RFB&D to serve its members by providing a wider choice 
of formats to meet their needs.

In addition to developing state-of-the-art reading technologies that make 
educational materials more accessible to students with disabilities, RFB&D 
has also expanded its mission to offer effective strategies to help maximize 
the benefits of auditory learning.

RFB&D's national Educational Outreach Program targets students with print 
disabilities, their teachers and parents, to make RFB&D's products and 
educational strategies more widely known and available. While RFB&D 
historically has offered individual memberships to students, RFB&D's Learning 
Through Listeningb" Institutional Memberships provide accessible textbooks and 
teacher training to schools and districts to help educators integrate 
recorded textbooks into daily curricula. More than 4,000 schools have 
partnered with RFB&D through this program. 

For more information about RFB&D's AudioPlus digitally recorded textbooks, 
call RFB&D at 866-RFBD-585 or visit RFB&D's award-winning accessible website 
at www.rfbd.org/ap.htm. Interviews with students, parents, teachers and other 
experts in the fields of education and disabilities who are familiar with RFB&
D's AudioPlus books can be arranged by calling Morgan Roth at 609-520-8095.

Note: RFB&D has locations in Arizona; California; Colorado; Connecticut; 
Washington, DC; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Kentucky; Massachusetts; 
Michigan; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Tennessee; Texas; and 
Virginia/North Carolina.
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