Library of Congress seeking ‘smart devices’ for the blind and visually impaired

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The Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is looking to use commercial mobile devices like phones and tablets to give patrons access to its library of audio content.

NLS/BPH is a free braille and audio book service with a mission to provide “eligible patrons access to reading material regardless of age, economic circumstances, or technical expertise.” And the organization thinks there may be cheap phones and tablets out there that can help it fill this role better than a purpose-built player. To this end, NLS has issued a request for proposal, seeking a contractor to tackle adapting the commercial devices for NLS needs.

The devices must be commercially available for the general public, portable, battery operated and chargeable. They should also “be intuitive for use by unsophisticated patrons,” “enable patrons to learn/relearn device usage using the device itself,” “boot into the book reading application” and more.

The library also wants the contractor to develop and operate the necessary cloud infrastructure to support the devices. The three-year, IDIQ contract has a minimum value of $50,000 and a maximum value of $2 million.

NLS intends to test the devices on a focus group of users in order to determine their suitability.

Responses to the RFP are due on Sept. 3.

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accessibility, Library of Congress, mobile and wireless, RFP, tablets