Digital Talking Books Opening New Worlds to the Blind
For many years, the only format of talking books available to the blind were those recorded onto cassette tapes. This analog recording process has been a proven and affordable technology, but also one with limitations. These include degradation of audio quality over time, a time-consuming process for recording and transferring the data, and limited length of recording time. The great news is that in recent years, digital recording onto media cards, CDs, DVDs, and the Internet have eliminated most if not all of these analog tape obstacles. Digital offers a wide variety of improvements versus analog, including the ability to use a recording in a wide variety of mediums, greatly improved audio quality, and the flexibility of rapidly sharing the information recorded to many more blind users.
New Machines and Tools Created to Help Blind Readers
With the rise of digital as the predominant medium for blind readers, there has also been improvements in the machines used by the blind to read these new and improved books. For many years, there was only one device available for users to choose from for reading books. There are now many exciting features for blind users to choose from, including such things as being able to jump back and forth in a book, bookmarking, being able to vary the speed of the playback, and even keyword searches within the text. These and other advances are making for exciting and untapped worlds to be opened to the blind.
Braille Still Vital to the Blind
One may wonder if these advances have rendered the learning and usage of Braille as unimportant. Just the opposite is in fact the case. Both the machines and the media used to use these technologies commonly use Braille to provide instructions for usage and customization. Braille is also still considered a superior technology for reading books, especially for the reader looking for a greater catalog of material to read from. Users of Braille can be confident that it will be a vital part of the landscape for years to come.