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NOAA's Education Program: Review and Critique

by National Research Council of the National Academies

There is a national need to educate the public about the ocean, coastal resources, atmosphere and climate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the Earth's environment and conserving and managing coastal and marine resources to meet the nation's economic, social and environmental needs, has a broad mandate to engage and coordinate education initiatives on these topics. Since its creation in 1970, the NOAA has supported a variety of education projects that cover a range of topics related to the agency's scientific and stewardship mission. NOAA uses formal and informal learning environments to enhance understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to advance environmental education. The work of this agency overlaps and compliments the missions of other federal agencies, institutions of higher education, private and nonprofit organizations. Coordination among these agencies and organizations has been challenging. Limited education resources and the inherently global nature of NOAA's mission make strategic partnerships critical in order for the agency to accomplish its goals. Additionally, clear education goals, planning, and strategic use of resources are critical aspects for effective partnerships. NOAA's Education Program: Review and Critique provides a summary of the national education context for NOAA's role in education which is twofold: first is to advance the environmental literacy of the nation, and second is to promote a diverse workforce in ocean, coastal, Great Lakes, atmospheric and climate sciences. The book also describes the strengths and weaknesses of the education strategic plan, the education evaluation approach of the agency and strategies for improving the evaluation process.

Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop

by National Academy of Enegineering National of the National Academies

The 21st century is witnessing a rapid increase in the pace of knowledge creation in the sciences and engineering. Competing in this global economy requires a science and engineering workforce that is consistently at the technological forefront. Dr. Charles Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering, in a speech at the University of Michigan on October 15, 2007, put it simply: prospering in the knowledge age requires people with knowledge. The purpose of the Lifelong Learning Imperative Workshop, summarized in this volume, was to consider learning opportunities for the engineering professional. The participants in the workshop addressed the necessity of lifelong learning, the history of continuing education, possible delivery systems, systems used by other professions, and the current state of learning when viewed in the light of the rapid rate of technological change.

Envisioning the 2020 Census

by National Research Council of the National Academies

Planning for the 2020 census is already beginning. This book from the National Research Council examines several aspects of census planning, including questionnaire design, address updating, non-response follow-up, coverage follow-up, de-duplication of housing units and residents, editing and imputation procedures, and several other census operations. This book recommends that the Census Bureau overhaul its approach to research and development. The report urges the Bureau to set cost and quality goals for the 2020 and future censuses, improving efficiency by taking advantage of new technologies.

Review of the Environmental Protection Agency's Draft IRIS Assessment of Tetrachloroethylene

by National Research Council of the National Academies

Tetrachloroethylene is a volatile, chlorinated organic hydrocarbon that is widely used as a solvent in the dry-cleaning and textile-processing industries and as an agent for degreasing metal parts. It is an environmental contaminant that has been detected in the air, groundwater, surface waters, and soil. In June 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its draft Toxicological Review of Tetrachloroethylene (Perchloroethylene) (CAS No. 127-18-4) in Support of Summary Information on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). The draft IRIS assessment provides quantitative estimates of cancer and noncancer effects of exposure to tetrachloreothylene, which will be used to establish airquality and water-quality standards to protect public health and to set cleanup standards for hazardous waste sites. At the request of EPA, the National Research Council conducted an independent scientific review of the draft IRIS assessment of tetrachloroethylene from toxicologic, epidemiologic, and human clinical perspectives. The resulting book evaluates the adequacy of the EPA assessment, the data and methods used for deriving the noncancer values for inhalation and oral exposures and the oral and inhalation cancer unit risks posed by tetrachloroethylene; evaluates whether the key studies underlying the draft IRIS assessment are of requisite quality, reliability, and relevance to support the derivation of the reference values and cancer risks; evaluates whether the uncertainties in EPA's risk assessment were adequately described and, where possible, quantified; and identifies research that could reduce the uncertainty in the current understanding of human health effects associated with tetrachloroethylene exposure.

Revitalizing NASA's Suborbital Program: Advancing Science, Driving Innovation, and Developing a Workforce

by National Research Council of the National Academies

Suborbital flight activities, including the use of sounding rockets, aircraft, and high-altitude balloons, and suborbital reusable launch vehicles, offer valuable opportunities to advance science, train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and provide opportunities for participants in the programs to acquire skills in systems engineering and systems integration that are critical to maintaining the nation's leadership in space programs. Furthermore, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 finds it in the national interest to expand the size of NASA's suborbital research program and to consider increased funding. Revitalizing NASA's Suborbital Program is an assessment of the current state and potential of NASA's suborbital research programs and a review of NASA's capabilities in this area. The scope of this review includes: existing programs that make use of suborbital flights; the status, capability, and availability of suborbital platforms; the existing or planned launch facilities for suborbital missions (including the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy); and opportunities for scientific research, training, and educational collaboration in the conduct of suborbital missions by NASA. The findings illustrate that suborbital program elements-airborne, balloon, and sounding rockets-play vital and necessary strategic roles in NASA's research, innovation, education, employee development, and spaceflight mission success, thus providing the foundation for achievement of agency goals.

Perspectives from United Kingdom and United States Policy Makers on Obesity Prevention : Workshop Summary

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Both the United Kingdom and United States are grappling with nationwide epidemics of obesity. Obesity contributes to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers, among other diseases. Although many people are aware of obesity's causes and consequences, few see it as a problem for their own families--despite clinical evidence to the contrary. Given this disconnect between perception and reality, policy makers in both countries struggle to find a way to reach people to encourage change. The IOM brought together policy makers from the U.K. and U.S. for a workshop on October 22, 2009, to discuss the challenges of and promising approaches to the struggle against obesity. Presenters spoke about current policies, programs, and partnerships that are addressing the obesity epidemic and evidence for effective strategies to change perception and behaviors. The workshop, summarized in this document, provided an opportunity for both countries to learn from each other's efforts and to consider how to apply new strategies at home.

Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences

by National Research Council of the National Academies

From the oceans to continental heartlands, human activities have altered the physical characteristics of Earth's surface. With Earth's population projected to peak at 8 to 12 billion people by 2050 and the additional stress of climate change, it is more important than ever to understand how and where these changes are happening. Innovation in the geographical sciences has the potential to advance knowledge of place-based environmental change, sustainability, and the impacts of a rapidly changing economy and society. Understanding the Changing Planet outlines eleven strategic directions to focus research and leverage new technologies to harness the potential that the geographical sciences offer.

Promoting Chemical Laboratory Safety and Security in Developing Countries

by National Research Council of the National Academies

There is growing concern about the possible use of toxic industrial chemicals or other hazardous chemicals by those seeking to perpetrate acts of terrorism. The U.S. Chemical Security Engagement Program (CSP), funded by the U.S. Department of State and run by Sandia National Laboratories, seeks to develop and facilitate cooperative international activities that promote best practices in chemical security and safe management of toxic chemicals, including: Partnering with host governments, chemical professionals, and industry to assess and fill gaps in chemical security abroad. Providing technical expertise and training to improve best practices in security and safety among chemical professionals and industry. Increasing transparency and accountability for dangerous chemical materials, expertise, and technologies. Providing opportunities for collaboration with the international professional chemical community. The Department of State called on the National Academies to assist in the CSP's efforts to promote chemical safety and security in developing countries.

The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise: Innovative Strategies to Enhance Products from Discovery through Approval

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

During public health emergencies such as pandemic influenza outbreaks or terrorist attacks, effective vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures are essential to protecting national security and the public's well-being. The Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE)--a partnership among federal, state, and local governments; industry; and academia--is at the forefront of the effort to develop and manufacture these countermeasures. However, despite the PHEMCE's many successes, there are still serious challenges to overcome. Government-funded medical research is not always focused on countermeasures for the most serious potential threats, and it is difficult to engage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures that have a limited commercial market. At the request of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the IOM held a workshop February 22-24, 2010, to address challenges facing the PHEMCE. Workshop participants discussed federal policies and procedures affecting the research, development, and approval of medical countermeasures and explored opportunities to improve the process and protect Americans' safety and health.

Field Evaluation in the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Context: Workshop Summary

by National Research Council of the National Academies

On September 22-23, 2009, the National Research Council held a workshop on the field evaluation of behavioral and cognitive sciences--based methods and tools for use in the areas of intelligence and counterintelligence. Broadly speaking, the purpose of the workshop was to discuss the best ways to take methods and tools from behavioral science and apply them to work in intelligence operations. More specifically, the workshop focused on the issue of field evaluation--the testing of these methods and tools in the context in which they will be used in order to determine if they are effective in real-world settings. This book is a summary and synthesis of the two days of presentations and discussions that took place during the workshop. The workshop participants included invited speakers and experts from a number of areas related to the behavioral sciences and the intelligence community. The discussions covered such ground as the obstacles to field evaluation of behavioral science tools and methods, the importance of field evaluation, and various lessons learned from experience with field evaluation in other areas.

Patients Charting the Course

by The National Academy of Sciences

As past, current, or future patients, the public should be the health care system's unwavering focus and serve as change agents in its care. Taking this into account, the quality of health care should be judged not only by whether clinical decisions are informed by the best available scientific evidence, but also by whether care is tailored to a patient's individual needs and perspectives. However, too often it is provider preference and convenience, rather than those of the patient, that drive what care is delivered. As part of its Learning Health System series of workshops, the Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care hosted a workshop to assess the prospects for improving health and lowering costs by advancing patient involvement in the elements of a learning health system.

Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

To battle the obesity epidemic in America, health care professionals and policymakers need relevant, useful data on the effectiveness of obesity prevention policies and programs. ridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention identifies a new approach to decision making and research on obesity prevention to use a systems perspective to gain a broader understanding of the context of obesity and the many factors that influence it.

Future Directions for the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

As the United States devotes extensive resources to health care, evaluating how successfully the U.S. system delivers high-quality, high-value care in an equitable manner is essential. At the request of Congress, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) annually produces the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and the National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). The reports have revealed areas in which health care performance has improved over time, but they also have identified major shortcomings. After five years of producing the NHQR and NHDR, AHRQ asked the IOM for guidance on how to improve the next generation of reports. The IOM concludes that the NHQR and NHDR can be improved in ways that would make them more influential in promoting change in the health care system. In addition to being sources of data on past trends, the national healthcare reports can provide more detailed insights into current performance, establish the value of closing gaps in quality and equity, and project the time required to bridge those gaps at the current pace of improvement.

Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

by National Research Council of the National Academies

Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles evaluates various technologies and methods that could improve the fuel economy of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, transit buses, and work trucks. The book also recommends approaches that federal agencies could use to regulate these vehicles' fuel consumption. Currently there are no fuel consumption standards for such vehicles, which account for about 26 percent of the transportation fuel used in the U.S. The miles-per-gallon measure used to regulate the fuel economy of passenger cars. is not appropriate for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which are designed above all to carry loads efficiently. Instead, any regulation of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles should use a metric that reflects the efficiency with which a vehicle moves goods or passengers, such as gallons per ton-mile, a unit that reflects the amount of fuel a vehicle would use to carry a ton of goods one mile. This is called load-specific fuel consumption (LSFC). The book estimates the improvements that various technologies could achieve over the next decade in seven vehicle types. For example, using advanced diesel engines in tractor-trailers could lower their fuel consumption by up to 20 percent by 2020, and improved aerodynamics could yield an 11 percent reduction. Hybrid powertrains could lower the fuel consumption of vehicles that stop frequently, such as garbage trucks and transit buses, by as much 35 percent in the same time frame.

Selling the Nation's Helium Reserve

by National Research Council of the National Academies

Helium has long been the subject of public policy deliberation and management, largely because of its many strategic uses and its unusual source-it is a derived product of natural gas and its market has several anomalous characteristics. Shortly after sources of helium were discovered at the beginning of the last century, the U.S. government recognized helium's potential importance to the nation's interests and placed its production and availability under strict governmental control. In the 1960s, helium's strategic value in cold war efforts was reflected in policies that resulted in the accumulation of a large reserve of helium owned by the federal government. The latest manifestation of public policy is expressed in the Helium Privatization Act of 1996 (1996 12 Act), which directs that substantially all of the helium accumulated as a result of those earlier policies be sold off by 2015 at prices sufficient to repay the federal government for its outlays associated with the helium program. The present volume assesses whether the interests of the United States have been well served by the 1996 Act and, in particular, whether selling off the helium reserve has had any adverse effect on U.S. scientific, technical, biomedical, and national security users of helium.

Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth-Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies

by National Research Council of the National Academies

The United States spends approximately four million dollars each year searching for near-Earth objects (NEOs). The objective is to detect those that may collide with Earth. The majority of this funding supports the operation of several observatories that scan the sky searching for NEOs. This, however, is insufficient in detecting the majority of NEOs that may present a tangible threat to humanity. A significantly smaller amount of funding supports ways to protect the Earth from such a potential collision or "mitigation." In 2005, a Congressional mandate called for NASA to detect 90 percent of NEOs with diameters of 140 meters of greater by 2020. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies identifies the need for detection of objects as small as 30 to 50 meters as these can be highly destructive. The book explores four main types of mitigation including civil defense, "slow push" or "pull" methods, kinetic impactors and nuclear explosions. It also asserts that responding effectively to hazards posed by NEOs requires national and international cooperation. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies is a useful guide for scientists, astronomers, policy makers and engineers.

Gulf War and Health, Volume 8: Update of Health Effects of Serving in the Gulf War

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

For the United States, the 1991 Persian Gulf War was a brief and successful military operation with few injuries and deaths. However, soon after returning from duty, a large number of veterans began reporting health problems they believed were associated with their service in the Gulf. At the request of Congress, the IOM is conducting an ongoing review of the evidence to determine veterans' long-term health problems and what might be causing those problems. The fourth volume in the series, released in 2006, summarizes the long-term health problems seen in Gulf War veterans. In 2008, the IOM began an update to look at existing health problems and identify possible new ones, considering evidence collected since the initial summary. In this report, the IOM determines that Gulf War service causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that service is associated with multisymptom illness; gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome; alcohol and other substance abuse; and anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders. To ensure that our veterans receive the best possible care, now and in the future, the government should continue to monitor their health and conduct research to identify the best treatments to assist Gulf War veterans still suffering from persistent, unexplained illnesses.

Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies - Report 2

by National Research Council of the National Academies

The term "disruptive technology" describes a technology that results in a sudden change affecting already established technologies or markets. Disruptive technologies cause one or more discontinuities in the normal evolutionary life cycle of technology. This may lead to an unexpected destabilization of an older technology order and an opportunity for new competitors to displace incumbents. Frequently cited examples include digital photography and desktop publishing. The first report of the series, Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies, discussed how technology forecasts were historically made, assessed various existing forecasting systems, and identified desirable attributes of a next-generation persistent long-term forecasting system for disruptive technologies. This second book attempts to sketch out high-level forecasting system designs. In addition, the book provides further evaluation of the system attributes defined in the first report, and evidence of the feasibility of creating a system with those attributes. Together, the reports are intended to help the Department of Defense and the intelligence community identify and develop a forecasting system that will assist in detecting and tracking global technology trends, producing persistent long-term forecasts of disruptive technologies, and characterizing their potential impact on future U.S. warfighting and homeland defense capabilities.

Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century

by National Research Council of the National Academies

In the last 20 years, there has been a remarkable emergence of innovations and technological advances that are generating promising changes and opportunities for sustainable agriculture, yet at the same time the agricultural sector worldwide faces numerous daunting challenges. Not only is the agricultural sector expected to produce adequate food, fiber, and feed, and contribute to biofuels to meet the needs of a rising global population, it is expected to do so under increasingly scarce natural resources and climate change. Growing awareness of the unintended impacts associated with some agricultural production practices has led to heightened societal expectations for improved environmental, community, labor, and animal welfare standards in agriculture. Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century assesses the scientific evidence for the strengths and weaknesses of different production, marketing, and policy approaches for improving agricultural sustainability and reducing the costs and unintended consequences of agricultural production. It discusses the principles underlying farming systems and practices that could improve the sustainability. It also explores how those lessons learned could be applied to agriculture in different regional and national settings, with an emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa. By presenting practices and how they could be combined in a systems approach to improving the sustainability of U.S. agriculture, this book can have a profound impact on the development and implementation of sustainable farming systems. Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century serves as a valuable resource for policy makers, farmers, experts in food production and agribusiness, and federal regulatory agencies.

Realizing the Energy Potential of Methane Hydrate for the United States

by National Research Council of the National Academies

Natural gas, composed mostly of methane, is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels, emitting 25-50% less carbon dioxide than either oil or coal for each unit of energy produced. In recent years, natural gas supplied approximately 20-25% of all energy consumed in the United States. Methane hydrate is a potentially enormous and as yet untapped source of methane. The Department of Energy's Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program has been tasked since 2000 to implement and coordinate a national methane hydrate research effort to stimulate the development of knowledge and technology necessary for commercial production of methane from methane hydrate in a safe and environmentally responsible way. Realizing the Energy Potential of Methane Hydrate for the United States evaluates the program's research projects and management processes since its congressional re-authorization in 2005, and presents recommendations for its future research and development initiatives.

Demographic Changes, a View from California: Implications for Framing Health Disparities

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

The IOM held a workshop on July 28, 2008, to examine strategies for discussing health disparities in ways that engage the public and motivate change. Speakers focused on health disparities in California, which continues to see dramatic demographic shifts.

CNS Clinical Trials: Suicidality And Data Collection - Workshop Summary

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all clinical trials for drugs that affect the central nervous system--including psychiatric drugs--are assessed for whether that drug might cause suicidal ideation or behavior. The IOM's Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders hosted a meeting on June 26, 2009, to discuss the FDA's new policy and how to analyze best whether suicidal thoughts predict actual suicidal behavior in the near future.

Understanding Climate's Influence on Human Evolution

by National Research Council of the National Academies

The hominin fossil record documents a history of critical evolutionary events that have ultimately shaped and defined what it means to be human, including the origins of bipedalism; the emergence of our genus Homo; the first use of stone tools; increases in brain size; and the emergence of Homo sapiens, tools, and culture. The Earth's geological record suggests that some evolutionary events were coincident with substantial changes in African and Eurasian climate, raising the possibility that critical junctures in human evolution and behavioral development may have been affected by the environmental characteristics of the areas where hominins evolved. Understanding Climate's Change on Human Evolution explores the opportunities of using scientific research to improve our understanding of how climate may have helped shape our species. Improved climate records for specific regions will be required before it is possible to evaluate how critical resources for hominins, especially water and vegetation, would have been distributed on the landscape during key intervals of hominin history. Existing records contain substantial temporal gaps. The book's initiatives are presented in two major research themes: first, determining the impacts of climate change and climate variability on human evolution and dispersal; and second, integrating climate modeling, environmental records, and biotic responses. Understanding Climate's Change on Human Evolution suggests a new scientific program for international climate and human evolution studies that involve an exploration initiative to locate new fossil sites and to broaden the geographic and temporal sampling of the fossil and archeological record; a comprehensive and integrative scientific drilling program in lakes, lake bed outcrops, and ocean basins surrounding the regions where hominins evolved and a major investment in climate modeling experiments for key time intervals and regions that are critical to understanding human evolution.

Achieving Effective Acquisition of Information Technology in the Department of Defense

by National Research Council of the National Academies

In the military, information technology (IT) has enabled profound advances in weapons systems and the management and operation of the defense enterprise. A significant portion of the Department of Defense (DOD) budget is spent on capabilities acquired as commercial IT commodities, developmental IT systems that support a broad range of warfighting and functional applications, and IT components embedded in weapons systems. The ability of the DOD and its industrial partners to harness and apply IT for warfighting, command and control and communications, logistics, and transportation has contributed enormously to fielding the world's best defense force. However, despite the DOD's decades of success in leveraging IT across the defense enterprise, the acquisition of IT systems continues to be burdened with serious problems. To address these issues, the National Research Council assembled a group of IT systems acquisition and T&E experts, commercial software developers, software engineers, computer scientists and other academic researchers. The group evaluated applicable legislative requirements, examined the processes and capabilities of the commercial IT sector, analyzed DOD's concepts for systems engineering and testing in virtual environments, and examined the DOD acquisition environment. The present volume summarizes this analysis and also includes recommendations on how to improve the acquisition, systems engineering, and T&E processes to achieve the DOD's network-centric goals.

A Population-Based Policy and Systems Change Approach to Prevent and Control Hypertension

by Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Hypertension is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, affecting nearly one in three Americans. It is prevalent in adults and endemic in the older adult population. Hypertension is a major contributor to cardiovascular morbidity and disability. Although there is a simple test to diagnose hypertension and relatively inexpensive drugs to treat it, the disease is often undiagnosed and uncontrolled. A Population-Based Policy and Systems Change Approach to the Prevention and Control Hypertension identifies a small set of high-priority areas in which public health officials can focus their efforts to accelerate progress in hypertension reduction and control. It offers several recommendations that embody a population-based approach grounded in the principles of measurement, system change, and accountability. The recommendations are designed to shift current hypertension reduction strategies from an individual-based approach to a population-based approach. They are also designed to improve the quality of care provided to individuals with hypertension and to strengthen the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's leadership in seeking a reduction in the sodium intake in the American diet to meet dietary guidelines. The book is an important resource for federal public health officials and organizations, especially the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as medical professionals and community health workers.

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