Thailand

Annual report for July 2003 - March 2004

Monthian Buntan
Assistant Project Manager
DAISY for All Project

Introduction

As the DAISY For ALL Project (DFA) was launched by the DAISY Consortium (DC) under the sponsorship of the Nippon Foundation, Thai Blind People's foundation (TBPF) was chosen by Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura, DFA project manager, to serve as the focal point for DFA project in Thailand and a DFA regional support center. Since the beginning, I, as the executive director of TBPF, has presumed the task of a defacto co-ordinator in Thailand, and later on, a DFA project assistant manager as stated by the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between DFA project manager and TBPF on July 30, 2003. (See more detail from MOU.)

In order to illustrate how this focal point and DFA regional support center has come into being, this report will go back to our activities from May 2003 up to the present time. They are as follows:

Attending the DAISY Consortium General Meeting and the DAISY For ALL Conference

From May 10-16, 2003, I was, with a kind support of DFA Project, able to attend last year DAISY Consortium General Meeting, followed by the DAISY for All Conference, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Note: I was one of a few people from developing countries who were present there. Although Thailand has already been engaged in DAISY development, production and services for a few years, being able to attend the meeting and conference, in many people with various types of experience and knowledge about DAISY, has helped me learn many things, I perceive to be, of great value for our future work within Thailand and this region.

These are just a few examples.

  • New development of DAISY production/playback tools (both software and hardware
  • Various production techniques
  • Various service delivery models
  • Discussions on several related topics, such as future generation of DAISY development/standard, DAISY for developping countries, copyright and content protection, etc.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DFA Project Manager and TBPF

On July 30, 2003, at the Century Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, a memorandum of understanding (MOU), between the DFA project manager (Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura) and TBPF representative (Prof. Wiriya Namsiripongpun), was signed. Such MOU signified that the collaborative working relationship between DFA project and TBPF has officially been recognized and with full commitment from both sides. (See the content of the MOU in a separate attached document)

MOU signing

Establishing the Focal Point and Regional Support Center

In order to start the actual operation of the Thailand DFA Focal Point and DFA Regional Support Center at TBPF, these following steps were taken between June and July 2003:

  1. Alocation of one office room, kindly offered by TAB (TBPF parent organization), comprising of one computer with a five-port hub connected to the internet via TAB LAN, one internal telephone line, one external telephone line, one fax line, three cabinets, two working desks, one set of sofa and other office equipment
  2. Alocation of one staff, rotated from TAB, to work on DFA-related matters as an assistant to Mr. Monthian
  3. Opening a DFA-specific account in Bangkok
  4. Purchase hardware and software for DAISY production, playback, demonstration and training (as shown in the separate list of purchased items which was submitted earlier)

Activities in accordance with the goals and objectives of DFA

In order to help facilitate the work of DFA project in developing countries within this region, the DFA focal point in Thailand was established with the mission beyond just being a domestic focal point. These following activities, conducted at this regional support center, have, to a large extent, reflected the goals and objectives of DFA:

Training activities

1. The first DFA International Trainers' Training

Our main training, the DFA International Trainers' Training which took place from August 2-8, 2003 at the Century Park Hotel, was attended by 10 participants from five countries. Among these ten trainees, four were blind or partially sighted. After seven days of intensive course, filled with both lectures and practices, this training was concluded with positive results.

participants

2. The first DFA focal point training

This training took place on August 11-15, 2003 at the national library for the blind and print disabled which is located in the national headquarters building of TAB. It was attended by nine trainees and two observers from seven member organizations of Thailand National Committee on DAISY Production and Services (TNCD).

participants

3. Fulltext Production Training

In order to facilitate the new and promising project called the School Textbook Production, supported by the Ministry of Education of Thailand, a more dedicated training on the fulltext DAISY book production training was held on April 7-9 2004 at the National Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. Not only the fact that we were able to improve the skills and confidence of participants, which were largely technicians from TNCD member organizations, but we were also able to agree on how to set the guideline for the fulltext production to be used for school textbook production in DAISY format in Thailand.

4. DAISY Production Training in the Central Women Correctional Institution

This first-ever DAISY training in the prison was held on July 24-30, 2003. Although this training was not part of originally planned activities in the DFA project, I decided to include it in this report simply because it involved a great deal of contribution from DFA. The training, which received a full financial support from the HRH Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn IT Initiative Project Fund, was at first attended by 10 participants (as officially registered) and then expanded to 19.

Given the fact that the majority of trainees had no knowledge of DAISY and with almost all of them having no knowledge of the internet and web technology, the outcome of this training was quite satisfying. All trainees were able to finish ncc-only book project and a basic full-text project. With limited time, resource and background of trainees, our DFA trainer, Ms. Miki Azuma has done an excellent job in bringing such level of success and so much enthusiasm to these prisoners.

Note: since such training TBPF and HRH IT Initiative project have been providing technical support to help improve the skills of these prisoners who have ever since become producers of DAISY books in this first production unit in the prison.

MOU signing

The first DFA Open Source Software Development Workshop

In order to facilitate the work of open source software development within DFA project, the DFA regional support center in Thailand hosted the first DFA workshop on open source software development on October 19-24, 2003 at Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University, Thailand. This workshop was attended by twelve potential developers: seven from India and five from Thailand.

MOU signing

Thailand DFA Regional Center in the WSIS

Throughout the year 2003, I myself, as the representative of the DFA regional support center in Thailand and as one of the DFA assistant project managers, have worked in close collaboration with the DFA project manager, Mr. Hiroshi Kawamura in getting actively involved with the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) from the preparation stages to the actual summit in last December in Geneva.

As the result of hard work and with good support of some governments, we were able to have some important disability-inclusive contents in both the declarations of principles and the plan of actions in this first phase of WSIS. (See more information on WSIS at WSIS web site.)

In addition to active participation in the mainstreaming event of WSIS, both in the official WSIS document and the one which was proposed by the civil society sector, DFA, together with other organizations within the DAISY consortium and other disability-related organizations, organized the Global forum on Disability During the summit.

Other activities

The Thailand DFA regional support center has either conducted or participated in several other activities in order to take our commitment and tasks further. Throughout the year 2003, the center was able to support the work of at least five DAISY production units in Thailand. Up till this moment, there are more than 500 book titles being produced in DAISY format. And with the new school textbook production project, it is expected that there will be 300 textbooks produced in DAISY format by the end of this year.

Other activities, significantly influenced by DFA, include:

  1. Establishment of the world first production unit in the prison;>
  2. DAISY Reading Contest;
  3. Thai version of AMIS;
  4. Development of some software programs, such as plugins to help bridge the gap of inaccessible and difficult-to-use DAISY authoring tools, etc.

Moving forward to serve the region

After contributing to the successful implementation of DAISY in Thailand and experiencing the first year of collaboration and coordination through trainings, workshop and other activities, the Thailand DFA regional support center is ready to move forward to meet the challenge of DFA goals and objectives. This year, it will help facilitate the establishment one DFA focal point in Malaysia. To secure the smooth operation of this task, I recently paid a short visit to Malaysia to have a preparatory meeting with concerned parties in Malaysia

At the same time, our center is moving ahead to prepare for the focal point establishment in Vietnam, to be launched as early as the beginning of next year. Earlier in May, I was able to visit Vietnam and found a few key persons who could potentially help play an important role in this matter.

With the completion of the building of the Asia/Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD) in October, it is expected that the role of our DFA regional support center in Thailand will be increased in order to better serve the whole region, taking advantage of the facilities of the APCD.

Conclusion

It is with my firm belief that DFA will bring about positive change to the world of literacy for print disabled people throughout the world, especially those in developing countries. In addition to the strong commitment and collective and active participation of all DFA staff members, the key factor for this dawn of success has and will always come from the kindest support of the Nippon Foundation. With this regards, I, as one of the DFA family members, would like to extend my sincere gratitude to this great contribution of the foundation which, I believe, will definitely help make our soon-to-be information/knowledge-based society truly inclusive for all.