Sunday, March 17, 2002

'Talking books' maker goes digital

By Dylan T. Lovan
Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — In one of the recording studios at the American Printing House for the Blind, Fred Major is reading from a book of short stories called The Bridegroom: Stories, by Ha Jin.

        He speaks into a microphone in one room while a technician in the next room watches as Mr. Major's smooth voice is transmitted to a computer that stores the sound. The file can later be recorded onto a compact disc.

        The printing house, one of the world's largest producers of materials for the blind, has been producing the “talking books” since 1938.

        But it's never been this easy.

        The in-house digital studios are one of the improvements the 143-year-old printing house, near downtown Louisville, has made to make responding to the needs of the visually-impaired quicker and more efficient.

        The printing house's nine non-digital studios are still recording miles of analog tape, but Carol Stewart, the studio director, said the digital studios, which use simple desktop technology, are superior.

        “The editing is simpler, and I think it makes us more efficient.” Ms. Stewart said. She said the three digital studios are up to 20 percent faster that the old analog recorders.

        The talking books are recorded under contract for the National Libary Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress.


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- 'Talking books' maker goes digital