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Keeping the blind connected

Hamish Barwick | May 22, 2015
Audio streaming service replaces CDs at Vision Australia.

Simpson claimed clients using the machines "absolutely love" having access to the organisation's entire content collection, and cited a spike in the usage of newspapers, magazines and audio book titles.

"One of the real benefits of the readers is that when we were sending out CDs, we didn't know if people were reading the entire book or not," he said.

"People might listen for 10 minutes and think `I don't really like that' before sticking the CD back in the post and sending it back to us. This would trigger us to send another CD."

With the new approach, when a person starts to stream the book and they don't like it, they can choose to delete the file. "It's only cost a little bit of data because they've only streamed 10 minutes," Simpson said.

It's already clear clients are quickly embracing digital over CDs. In January, 110,000 items were accessed from the Vision Australia collection, 72 per cent of which were accessed through the 3G player or people downloading files themselves. Only 27.4 per cent of titles were distributed via CDs.

"That is a turnaround from January 2014, where only 15 per cent of the titles were accessed digitally while 85 per cent of titles were sent through the post," Simpson said.

Simpson said it partnered with Optus as the telco was enthusiastic about the project. Several Optus staff volunteered their time to convert the Daisy Readers.

"Optus and M2M [IT partner] provided our staff with training on how to use that platform and activate the SIM cards. By using the platform, we are able to manage the amount of data to each player and each individual," he said.

Each user is provided with 2GB of data per month. If a client hasn't used their data allocation for a while, Vision Australia will make contact and ask if everything is OK.

The not-for-profit can also send short messages about services to clients via the player so the next time the client turns on the player, they will receive the message.

"It could also enable us to send emergency messages to people, things that we couldn't do via the CD circulation," said Simpson.

Vision Australia is planning to introduce a $12 rental fee per month. However, it won't be charging clients for data usage.

Although Optus is busy rolling out a 4G service in Australia, Simpson said it was planning to stick with 3G as more of its clients can access the service around the country. Vision Australia is also looking to develop an iOS app for clients who can download content directly on their own computer.

He hoped this would be available by December.


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