Karen Keninger女士是美國國會圖書館視障與身障服務部門的主任(NLS，National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)，她在2000年起即在Iowa州負責政府部門針對視障者計畫與社區、圖書館服務，她結合各種商業與社區資源，並主導各種計劃來運用點字及有聲工具解決視障者閱讀上的需求。Karen自己就是視障工具的真正使用者，在Iowa州內非常積極的推動類比有聲書轉成數位有聲書，推行網路點字數、有聲書下載服務。
綜觀她主要的貢獻有為推展數位化的digital talking book system、主導義工轉製有聲書計畫與引導全國性的視障電腦訓練計畫。在Karen的服務概念中，是全然關照各種類型的視障者需要，她注意到先天和後天的差異性，先天者在學習上有導引的需要，後天者有需要適應的需求。科技帶來新的閱讀希望，可以讓有聲書、點字書跳脫實體空間的距離，普及於各角落，簡單易學的機器設備和介面是讓視障者學習入門重要的訴求。為滿足視障者的需要，她從出版的起源到資源的轉製，應用和訓練都設計完備，雖然目前在科技上的困境造成數位落差，我們深信以Karen的熱忱和領導能力，美國的視障服務仍有很廣的揮灑空間。
2. 結合iOS系統發展有聲書app，可以運用於蘋果系列產品，並支援藍芽裝置(Android 系統發展中)
Library Watch：In your opinion, what is the most critical issues for libraries today to provide adequate services to the blind and physically handicapped?
Blind and physically disabled people come from all walks of life, all socio-economic levels, and have a full spectrum of skills, abilities, and needs. Meeting the individual needs of this diverse population is the biggest challenge we face. ，They have lived as sighted people for 50, 60, or 70 years, relying on their vision as their primary contact with the world around them, including their technologies. They often find it difficult to adapt to vision loss and do not quickly adapt to using today’s technology in a nonvisual manner. Their ability to independently select and acquire reading materials has been compromised by disability, requiring a much higher level of support than they did previously. Therefore we are challenged with meeting their needs for appropriate assistance and for an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use reading system. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum are highly competent blind users of technology—primarily people who have been blind early in life and have had the opportunity to adapt to nonvisual approaches to technology as well as other daily living skills. This portion of our population demands sophisticated, multifunctional devices such as the iPhone to meet their reading and communication needs and expects to select and acquire the material they want without assistance from others. Thus, we are challenged with providing the appropriate technologies for all of our patrons and for providing the appropriate levels of support for selecting and acquiring materials.
Library Watch：What are the TOP 5 priorities to the objects for NLS in the States? What are the achievements up to date?
The top five priorities for NLS are to:
1. Maintain the highest level of quality possible for the audio and braille materials we provide
2. Increase the breadth and depth of the NLS collection
3. Leverage technology to improve the delivery and reading experience for all NLS patrons
4. Revitalize the NLS braille program in order to support braille literacy
5. Increase the number of blind and physically disabled Americans using the NLS program
Achievements to date include:
1. Development of an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use digital talking book system which includes a player and a flash-based cartridge containing the talking book which is provided to all patrons
2. Developing and deploying an iOS-based app which will play digital talking books and digital braille books using an iDevice and, for braille, a Bluetooth refreshable braille display. (An android version is under development.)
3. Developing the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service which allows registered patrons to download NLS books and magazines in digital audio and braille formats directly to their computer for transfer to their player, or into their iDevice for immediate playback.
4. Developing arrangements with major audio book publishers to use their audio content in the NLS program, thus increasing the number of titles we can produce each year.
Library Watch：Do you think that with advancement of the network and electronic technology, handicapped people would benefit or would suffer from it?
Advancements in the internet and both mainstream and assistive technologies have been a double-edged sword for blind Americans. For those with the resources and ability to learn and use complex mainstream technologies and in some ways even more complex assistive technology systems, the new technologies have opened worlds of information and potential for employment and education never before available to blind people. However, the constant cycle of innovation keeps the assistive technology lagging behind, causing periodic disruptions in functionality for blind users. To date, the best assistive technologies have been expensive add-ons to mainstream systems, pricing some people completely out of the market.
A new danger arises, however, for those do not have the resources to acquire and learn the technologies. People responsible for funding library programs for the blind, for example, see cost savings by shifting from traditional circulation systems to all-digital download services for all patrons. This does not account for the needs of over half of the population who cannot afford, or cannot readily learn to use, download systems and/or mainstream digital devices.
Library Watch：How the Braille and BARD affect the special patrons around the States?
Approximately 15% of NLS patrons have downloaded books and magazines from BARD. Patrons who use BARD are, for the most part, avid readers who downloaded, on average, over 100 books and magazines apiece in the past year. These readers are able to download a book or magazine as soon as it is posted, and many watch the new releases daily. When BARD is down, which rarely happens, patrons and libraries notice immediately? These patrons now have less, or perhaps no, reliance on their network libraries to acquire books and magazines. Constant customer feedback from BARD users indicates that they are very happy with the service. BARD currently holds 40,000 digital talking books, 12,750 braille books, and a year’s worth of issues of some 85 magazines. These numbers are increasing daily.
Library Watch：During you long years of public services to the blind and physically handicapped, are there any special stories or experiences that you would like to share with us?
I am constantly reminded of the abilities of blind and disabled people, and that with proper training and opportunities, blind people can participate fully in society. I recall a woman I met who was losing her vision in middle age. Her grown daughters were very fearful that she would hurt herself, so did not allow her to working the kitchen or to use a knife. After one week of training in nonvisual techniques, this woman made a knife block, using power tools under the guidance of an instructor. When she completed that week of training, she informed her daughters that they were stopping by a store to purchase the knives she needed for her kitchen. She learned in that one week that she was capable of taking care of herself. Our best learning comes from those who have gone before us. NLS therefore has a focus in its collections on books written by people who have lost their vision and found positive ways of recapturing their independence and self-confidence.
【採訪撰稿 ● 林孟玲】
1. “Karen A. Keninger new director of the National Library Service “(USA)，News from the Library of Congress，http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2012/12-038.html