Advancement of Digital Talking Book Media
The Honorable Laura Bush
Oregon Talking Book & Braille Service Advisory Council
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As a librarian and a teacher you have been an eloquent spokesperson for the importance of reading for all Americans.
We, as blind and reading disabled consumers and supporters of talking book library services throughout America, ask that you urge the Library of Congress to accelerate the development of digital talking books.
The Library of Congress has been slow to develop digital talking books. Under their current plan, we will have to wait until 2008 to even begin to see replacement of their antiquated cassette talking books and players.
Here is why blind and reading disabled readers cant wait until 2008:
Current users are dropping out of the program and potential users are rejecting cassette talking books. The national program has lost fifteen percent of its users since 1996, six percent in the last year alone.
The program no longer appeals to students and young people. Its particularly embarrassing and inefficient for young people to be forced to use obsolete technology.
The budgets of talking book programs in state libraries and other agencies will be reduced or eliminated if readership continues to fall.
Public libraries offer sighted people audiobooks on compact discs. Some even have audiobooks to download. Why must blind and reading disabled people wait until 2008 to do the same?
Other countries like Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Japan, and the Netherlands already have digital talking book programs for their blind and reading disabled library users.
The undersigned respectfully request that you urge the Library of Congress to begin a digital talking book program no later than 2006, so that more blind and reading disabled children, adults, and seniors can experience all that books have to offer.