RFBD Comes To iPads, iPods, and iPhones

Recordings For the Blind and Dyslexic, which has the largest collection of digitized textbooks and literature (64,000 titles) in the world, finally will make that available through iTunes. I, along with many others, have been waiting for this for a while. I hope the app (which is selling for $19.95) will be worth the wait.

Of course, you have to have a print disability of some type, such as dyslexia, in order to access the textbooks.

Now students won’t have to use those clunky (to them) Walkmen clones that one used to need to play the CD’s on.

About Sanford

Learning Disabilities specialist and Educational Consultant
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13 Responses to RFBD Comes To iPads, iPods, and iPhones

  1. Richard says:

    Of course, RFBD has a reputation for making a big mess out of stuff, they’re generally behind the ball when it comes to affordable and accessible technology and while I think their charter is great, a talking Kindle might be a better solution for some people.

    If I needed this kind of service I think I’d go with Audible before RFBD.

  2. Sanford says:

    Richard, thanks.
    Yes, I’ve heard that sentiment before (about RFBD). I’m hoping Apple’s quality control will trump RBBD’s tendency.

    It’s good to have options.

    The people I’ve met at conferences from Audible have been great and I just like their vibe. I also think that currently RFBD has a lot more textbooks digitized than Audible and RFBD is now a free service where (again I could be wrong here) Audible has a monthly fee, though quite reasonable.

    RFBD took so long to get this app out and up that ultimately they’re likely behind the curve as I hope and see that sooner or later all textbooks will have digital versions available to everyone (at a cost).

    I wonder if any of these devices will enable variable speed control. Some of the younger kids and slower readers I’ve worked with really get good mileage out of being able to slow the reader down (currently you can do this on some of the CD playback equipment. If you can integrate the audible or rfbd software with Apple voices you could control it that way.


  3. Richard says:

    I don’t know about speed control on either but it would seem like RFBD would/should have it. Audible I’m not sure about.

    Remember, Audible is NOT synthetic speech (Apple voices), it’s digitized human voice. I’m not sure what RFBD is doing with their new offering and that will be meaningful.

  4. Hi Richard & Sanford

    I have been working closely with RFB&D and hope to get my hands on the app shortly to test out. At this time you still need to use the Download Manager on your Mac to download the books. Once the books are downloaded you then need to move them to your iTunes account and then Synch your iPod, iPhone or iPad. The books are fully navigational and will allow you to change the rate of book being read. I will keep you informed.



  5. Richard says:

    Brian: Synthetic or recorded voice? That’s the question.

  6. Sanford says:

    Brian, thanks for chiming in.

    I’m wondering the same thing as Richard, though I can’t imagine RFBD would switch to synthesized voices from recorded human voices for the app.

  7. Doug says:

    The RFB&D Audio app, offered through the Apple iTunes Store, offers features for accessibility like bookmarking, chapter and page navigation, variable speed control and more. It enables playback of the entire RFB&D library of 65,000 downloadable DAISY formatted titles. While RFB&D audiobooks are human voice recordings rendered by thousands of volunteers across the country, the product will support future generations of text-to-speech content. Response from RFB&D’s user base of individuals with visual and learning disabilities, along with schools and institutions, has been positive across the board.

    Receptivity has also been overwhelmingly positive since the introduction of RFB&D’s ReadHear software player a few months ago, enabling content to be accessed on Mac and Windows computers.

    I believe thousands of student users (along with their parents and teachers) relying on these critical mainstream educational tools would take issue with Richard’s comment above.

    As a nonprofit fortified by a remarkable community of volunteers, RFB&D has been focusing all available resources to adapt/evolve with the times — working to develop affordable, accessible technology and content for an ever-expanding base of users.

    Audible is a great service that I personally love, but last time I checked, it doesn’t provide DAISY-level navigability, and it isn’t free to individuals with learning or visual disabilities. And last time I checked, people across the board appreciate a wide menu of options for accessing their content. If they enjoy and learn better with synthetic speech or human audio, there are plenty of options out there.

    I have met hundreds of people in RFB&D’s user base, and have yet to hear a single one going out of their way to denigrate other services and content providers. And people I encounter who are truly focused on a mission to help others tend to aggregate toward the positive and accentuate it whenever possible.

  8. Sanford says:

    Glad to know that the new app will have the navigation and control features. When slow reading students can slow the speech to be just at or just past the upper edge of their own abilities, it helps.

  9. Doug says:

    Thanks, Sanford. And interestingly, many of the blind/visually impaired members we serve prefer to significantly accelerate their playback — we have a lot of speed-readers in our base. 🙂

  10. I finally had a chance to download the RFBD app to my iPad last week and download some audiobooks to give the app a test run. There are two steps to the process: first you must download the DAISY file from the RFBD website to the RFBD Download Manager, and then once the audiobook is downloaded you need to open iTunes on your computer and add the audiobook zip file into the RFBD app within your iTunes library. Now synch your iPad and voila your book comes across the device and your are ready to listen to it.

    The audiobooks are all human narration and it is possible with the RFBD App to have the reader slow down or speed up as well you can also bookmark the page for future reference. Because the audiobook is a DAISY file the book allows you the freedom to navigate by levels and pages numbers if you wish. The quality of the audio is excellent when listening to the book on my iPad. This is a big step forward for RFBD to have the app running on iOS devices and I hope that in the future we will be able to download books without the need to use the Download Manager.

    As much as I enjoy the iPad there is something about synching that is cumbersome and I wish for a time when all of the behind the scene synching work could be done wirelessly.

  11. Sanford says:

    Thanks for the update Brian. Sounds like you need to go through that process for each book (?) Or is that a one time only glitch?

    I’m awaiting my iPad 2 and will talk with you offline about getting the rfbd app. Thanks for having them get in touch.

  12. Hi Sanford

    Please feel free to call me or email me if you have any questions



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