Inclusive Publishing: The Journey to Provide Accessible Digital Books

Original Author(s): Editors - George Kerscher, Varju Luceno, Avneesh Singh

Presented by George Kerscher in Doha, Qatar at TechShare Middle East.

Founded in 1996, DAISY Consortium is a global Consortium of organizations committed to equal access to information and knowledge regardless of disability; a right confirmed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have over 70 Members, Friends and Individual Supporters.

The accessible DAISY format is used throughout the world. The first distribution of DAISY books was on CD-ROM, but now DAISY member organizations are transitioning to online distribution. Growing number of organizations are moving to DAISY Online. Content can be delivered in a more timely fashion, to any location.

Learn more by visiting the DAISY Online project section of the DAISY Consortium website and reviewing use cases []. If you are interested in accessible mainstream publishing, please go to

How are DAISY books different from regular audio books?

DAISY offers text and audio synchronization. Text can be voiced using human narration or synthetic speech. Male or female voice of your choice can be used and reading speed can be adjusted. Specialized DAISY player is needed to fully benefit from the navigation features included in DAISY publication. DAISY players can support Braille output. DAISY meets both simple and advanced reading needs.

Why do we advocate for accessibility in mainstream publications?

Adding accessibility to an existing inaccessible file is a bit like adding accessibility ramps to an old building – expensive and almost always a compromise. Designing publications with accessibility in mind from the start saves time and money.

The transition of the publishing industry from print to digital is moving rapidly. DAISY Consortium is using its experience in the blindness and disability field to "create" the best digital reading experience. We do so by combining our members’ expertise, energy and resources and helping publishing industry make their publications be “born accessible”. It is not always easy and there is a difference between the needs of leisure readers and consumers of educational content.

It is important to add textual descriptions of illustrations and other non-textual elements. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if you can’t see, it does not matter. There are techniques for adding descriptions which will enable someone who can’t see to understand their significance.

Testing mainstream reading systems

The inclusive publishing ecosystem will never be perfect as standards and the reading systems that support them will continue to evolve. Our goal is to ensure that fundamental accessibility features and best practices can be used consistently by publishers.

The DAISY Consortium advocates for the accessibility features to be implemented in a wide range of mainstream reading systems and platforms and collaborates with other organizations to test mainstream reading systems. Testing can be time-consuming, but it is necessary in order to provide specific instructions to developers for making apps and devices accessible. Find out more at, see the list of tested applications and join us.

Accessible tools that can be used to create accessible content

The vision of the DAISY Consortium is to empower individuals and organizations around the globe to create accessible and feature-rich content overcoming diversities such as language and cost constraints.

The open source production tools developed by the DAISY Consortium including Obi enable organizations around the world to create structured multimedia books without a large investment in new technology. Obi is released under the LGPL license and is available for download at the Obi project site. People with special needs in developed and developing countries can therefore produce books with the same fluency as their sighted counterparts.

DAISY audio books or EPUB 3 content produced with Obi can be created with chapters, sections, sub-sections and pages, providing navigation to the content. Obi is fully accessible using assistive technologies such as screen readers.

Obi supports internationalization so that production can be localized into various languages. Obi is currently available in Arabic, French, Japanese, Finnish, Hindi and Tamil.

DAISY Consortium can provide training to organizations who are interested in Obi and accessible audio book production.

See also:, DAISY Consortium's Annual Report

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This page was last edited by VLuceno on Saturday, January 7, 2017 09:42
Text is available under the terms of the DAISY Consortium Intellectual Property Policy, Licensing, and Working Group Process.