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Revolutionare Audiobook System Tested At Crane

The Crane Resource Centre at the University of British Columbia has been selected as a test site for a new Talking Book indexing system which provides users with random access to recorded text books.

The DAISY/PLEXTALK system consists of software developed in Sweden on behalf of the Swedish Talking Book and Braille Library, as well as, hardware developed by a Japanese computer equipment manufacturer.

The DAISY/PLEXTALK System offers four giant steps forward over the conventional tape cassettes used for audiobooks.

Structured random access to chapters, pages, key words, sections, or any other significant part of a book.

Digital sound quality.

Audiobooks on recorded CD's with playback capacity currently at thirty hours.

Playback on multi-media personal computers or dedicated portable PLEXTALK players.

After extensive international surveys, it was determined that audiobook readers prefer the realism of "live" narrators to synthesized speech. The DAISY/PLEXTALK system records the reader's voice digitally directly onto the hard drive of the computer and permits simultaneous structuring of the recorded text to provide almost limitless random access to the material. For students, people in the work force, and leisure readers, the new system promises an end to the frustration of trying to find a specific item or place in the recorded text. It also opens up a host of new audiobook possibilities such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, cook books or any material to which the user needs random access.

Thanks to the generosity of the Japanese Ministry of Education and Welfare, and the International Experts Committee on the DAISY/PLEXTALK International Field Testing Project, Crane has received five PLEXTALK playback units, the DAISY software, a CD recording unit and several other valuable tools to undertake this exciting pilot project. In return, Crane will be recording several text, reference and "how to" books such as "The Complete Guide to Chinese Horoscopes", by Laurie Reid-a reference book of oriental and western horoscopes and "The Able Gardener", by Kathleen Yeomans-a practical guide to gardening for persons with disabilities. Crane will test user responses, as well as staff and volunteer reaction, to this new system, and share both the playback equipment and titles on CD's among local agencies producing or distributing audiobooks.

Crane Resource Centre Director, Paul Thiele says, "It is very exciting to be involved in this early international field testing project. We have considerable experience in designing and evaluating pilot projects and we have a client base of computer literate and technology confident users. I am convinced that the DAISY/ PLEXTALK system has the potential of being the next generation of talking book."

For more information, contact: Paul E. Thiele, Director, Crane Resource Centre, University of British Columbia, 1874 East Mall Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 Telephone: (604) 822- 6111 Fax: (604) 822-6113 E-mail: