Pace - IT Adaptive Tech Reviews
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
  Review: Mobile audiobooks and eBooks

Our local public pibrary has signed up for a service called Netlibrary where patrons can download audiobooks and eBooks to their home computers.

I'll address the audiobooks first. There are over a thousand audiobooks available and they can be downloaded to a home computer and then to a player that handles WMA files and uses Windows Media Player. This means they won't load to an iPod but I did load them to a Dell Axim handheld. There are two download qualities, CD quality at 32k bps and Radio quality at 4k bps.

The CD quality recording of an unabridged novel can be very large. David McCullough's popular work, 1776, is 161MB in CD quality, 11 hours and 30 minutes long. In so-called Radio quality it is 1/8th the size at 22MB. I say 'so-called Radio quality' because even with good headphones it is very unpleasant to listen to on the Dell handheld and 161MB is an awful lot to download to such a device and wouldn't leave much RAM available. The Dell doesn't have adequate battery life for such a use either. A better choice for listening to audiobooks would be a Creative USB thumbdrive audio player, like the MuVO TX FM player that has been recommended by others for adaptive uses. It would be easy to load new books, they're lightweight, and have a longer battery life.

The eBooks at Netlibrary can only be accessed online which is unfortunate. It would be nice if they used another format to allow portability on a handheld or eBook reader. They do have a large number of titles available, 22,000 +, and if you have a WiFi hotspot you could still access the books. The books are viewed Adobe Acrobat Reader and the software allows searching and notes can be added and saved for later use.

I found some titles that looked very interesting about disabilities issues and may very well relate to the PACE-IT project. Here's some that I found:

The Labor Market Experience of Workers With Disabilities : The ADA and Beyond

Choosing Assistive Devices : A Guide for Users and Professionals

The Decline in Employment of People With Disabilities : A Policy Puzzle

Adaptive Technologies for Learning & Work Environments

Measuring Functional Capacity and Work Requirements : Summary of a Workshop

Career Success for People With Physical Disabilities

Mastering Diversity : Managing for Success Under ADA & Other Anti-discrimination Laws

Disability Management : A Complete System to Reduce Costs, Increase Productivity, Meet Employee Needs, and Ensure Legal Compliance

Library materials can indeed be accessible but there are limits because of copyright compliance needs and the choice of providers for these materials. If you haven't checked with your local library in awhile you might be surprised what they have to offer. If they don't have these materials you might want to ask when they are getting them.

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