The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - November 2007

From The Editor

Welcome to the fourth edition of the DAISY Planet. Autumn is a time of change in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere it is a time of rebirth, spring. These are times of change in the natural world and in the DAISY Community. In North America and Europe, the spectacular fall colors announce that the natural world is gearing up for the hard work of winter. In parts of Australasia, South America and Africa, plans for spring planting will be in place — followed by the hard work of preparing the land and sowing the seed.

The DAISY Consortium is also preparing for hard work, and for sowing the seeds of change. This issue of The DAISY Planet is coming to you on the day of the announcement of the collaboration between Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium. Our first Feature Article describes this project and the second Feature Article announces the beginning of formal requirements gathering for the DAISY/NISO Z39.86 Standard. Both are collaborative; both mean that we have challenging work ahead. As you read these articles you will sense how collaboration and support from organizations and corporations around the world are contributing to DAISY’s success.

In addition to this new collaboration with Microsoft, DAISY continues its work with long-time partners like the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Person with Disabilities (JSRPD) and National Information Standards Organization (NISO). Thanks to JSRPD, all DAISY Members can download the latest release of MyStudio PC at no cost.

Hiroshi Kawamura is no stranger to hard work, in fact, his continued dedication and commitment to information access have spanned several decades. You have an opportunity to hear directly from the DAISY Consortium’s newly elected President in the ’Your Stories’ column. For Mr. Kawamura, serving as the President to the DAISY Consortium is the most recent step in his lifelong dedication to improving information access for people around the world with a print disability.

As we prepare for the work these projects will demand, we are heartened by the continual progress towards bringing DAISY and its benefits to people with print disabilities into the global mainstream consciousness. We will continue to explore new collaborations that will contribute to the worldwide accessibility of information for people with print disabilities. Stay tuned for next month’s DAISY Planet to read about other innovative and exciting DAISY Consortium projects!

Help us to keep "The DAISY Planet" interesting - use the Contact Us form to send comments, articles, or suggestions for future issues of the best newsletter on "The DAISY Planet".


November's Quiz:

Do you think the DAISY Planet Quiz is interesting and worthy of being continued? Please be honest - the responses we get will determine whether we will continue to carry the Planet Quiz.

Yes, please continue to include the Quiz
No, please discontinue the Quiz (it's not worth the bits it uses!)

October 2007 Quiz Results:

The October Quiz Question was: "The DAISY production of the last book of the Potter series, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', easily fits on just one CD. How many two track, standard format cassettes would have been needed for this same book?"

The answer is "16 cassettes". This is actually a rather tricky question. The total recorded time of the audio and thus the required number of cassettes will have varied somewhat from producer to producer, depending in part upon the speed at which the narrator read. An average recorded time was approximately 23 hours, which would require 16 two track standard audio cassettes. Congratulations to the 43% who got it right. You really know your stuff!

Your answers were:

  • 0% - 12 cassettes
  • 43% - 16 cassettes
  • 57% - 20 cassettes

DAISY Marketplace

The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The following links are to recently updated DAISY product entries on the DAISY Web site. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

Your Stories

The DAISY Consortium welcomes Hiroshi Kawamura as our new President!
Hiroshi Kawamura
Hiroshi Kawamura: DAISY for everyone by sharing knowledge

"None of the titles out of the millions of books held by the largest library in the country were accessible for the first successful blind candidate of the University of Tokyo."

DAISY Consortium and Microsoft Collaborate to Develop OpenXML to DAISY XML Converter

The Board, membership and staff of the DAISY Consortium welcome this opportunity to collaborate with Microsoft and we look forward to the release of "Save As DAISY XML" next year. The DAISY Standard has been adopted throughout the world by libraries and organizations producing and distributing accessible reading materials. This collaboration between Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium is a major breakthrough in the movement to provide feature-rich, structured information to the millions of people around the world who are unable to read print due to a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability.

What is "Save As DAISY"?

The result of this joint, standards-based, open source development project will be "Save As DAISY", a free, downloadable plug-in for Microsoft Word that will convert Open XML-based word processing documents into DAISY XML, technically referred to as DTBook. DAISY XML, or DTBook, is the foundation of the globally accepted DAISY Standard for reading and publishing navigable multimedia content. The DAISY XML that is generated is the marked up file that can then be processed to produce DAISY Digital Talking Books and other accessible formats.

This Open XML to DAISY XML Converter will be one of several authoring and conversion options that produce DTBook. The development will be hosted on SourceForge. The free, downloadable "Save As DAISY" plug-in is expected to be available in early 2008.

How does "Save As DAISY" benefit people with print disabilities? 

Everyone who uses desktop publishing to create content in Word will be able to save this content as DAISY XML. As content creators will not need to be DAISY or XML experts to use this converter, the number of DAISY publications should increase substantially. Individuals who have a print disability will thus have access to a greater number and much wider choice of reading and research materials.

The DAISY XML file (DTBook), prior to further processing, is not itself a DAISY book with all of the files necessary to provide a full text and audio multimedia reading experience for the user. This file can then be processed using tools available from DAISY Friends, the DAISY Consortium and other DAISY tool developers to create multiple accessible formats, including fully-navigable, feature-rich DAISY books, e-Books, large print, etc.

What impact does "Save As DAISY" have on commercial publishing tool developers?

"Save As DAISY" as a collaborative open source development will be freely available for Friends and Members of the DAISY Consortium and other developers to implement in their publishing and content creation tools and systems. 

What impact does "Save As DAISY" have on the publishing industry?

The ability to create DAISY XML easily with the Microsoft "Save As DAISY" plug-in will allow publishers around the world to efficiently and cost effectively create accessible multimedia publications. The benefit to those unable to read print publications is obvious – original published works will be accessible. The benefit to the publishing industry is the addition of navigable, feature-rich publications to their range of products.

Does "Save As DAISY" create a DAISY Digital Talking Book (DTB)?

"Save As DAISY XML" creates a DAISY XML file (DTBook) which requires further processing to become a DAISY Digital Talking Book (DTB). This additional processing may be accomplished using a number of commercial and open source conversion and production tools.  Information about these products can be found in the Tools area of the DAISY Consortium Web site.

When will "Save As DAISY" be available?

The Microsoft "Save As DAISY" free plug-in expected to be available in early 2008.

See the *link*Press Release*link* announcing this collaborative development project for additional information. Updates will be provided in the News area of the DAISY Web site.

Requirements Gathering for the DAISY/NISO Standard has Begun

The DAISY Consortium has begun a requirements gathering process to determine if changes to the DAISY/NISO (Z39.86) Specification (refered to here as the DAISY Standard) are necessary to more effectively meet the needs of its many users around the globe. "Users" include individuals who read material in accessible media, producers, publishers, educators, information providers, distributors, archivists, technology developers, and any other groups involved in use, creation and/or distribution of accessible and/or multimedia content.

The DAISY Standard has been adopted worldwide, with well over 100,000 unique DAISY publications available today. The DAISY Standard is now also being used in mainstream sectors, for example, the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) references portions of the specification in its standard, the Open Publication Structure (OPS) 2.0 specification. In the United States, the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (1.1) is a subset of the DAISY Standard.

The mainstream audio and print publishing industry is exploring the use of conforming DAISY publications in education and other sectors. An ever-growing number of groups that assist people with disabilities is also exploring the use of the DAISY reading technology. 

Based on our ongoing commitment to promote and participate in standards harmonization, the Consortium is pleased to open the requirements gathering process to all interested parties. Consideration is being given to the needs of related organizations in the field including, but not limited to:

Input from publishers interested in the DAISY Standard as a potential commercial option is very welcome.

The online submission form for requirements submissions is in the Standards area of the DAISY Web site. Comments on submitted requirements may also be made in this area of the site. Submissions may be made on behalf of an individual or group of individuals. A teacher, for example, may submit a requirements on behalf of one or more students.

The Consortium is dedicated to making the DAISY Standard the benchmark, demonstrating our philosophy that DAISY is the best way to read and publish content accessible to all. Please help us as we revisit the Standard and continue to strive to make the DAISY Standard as flexible, effective, and robust as possible.

Letters to the Editor

The Talking Book Library of cbm Canada (Christian Blind Mission) has been producing DAISY books since June 2006.  Working with two dedicated staff members and a group of committed volunteers, production rates have greatly surpassed our early expectations. To date we have completed 134 titles and have 121 more in various stages of A2D conversion and publishing.  We will surpass the number of books produced in 20 years of 2-track cassette production in just 5 years at our current rate. 
 
In speaking with other producers of audio books, I have sensed some hesitation to move to DAISY production out of concern that the processes involved increased demands on their scarce resources (time, money or trained staff), or that they don't have the knowledge or expertise needed to put the process in place. Some producers may be settling instead on the production of MP3 or other formats that limit the users' ability to navigate through the book. I would like to share our experience with these producers to help alleviate their fears. 
 
With little experience in HTML, XML, audio, braille, e-text or specialized knowledge of other accessible formats, we navigated our way through the processes of conversion and publishing. Working with agencies like CNIB and OALS, we tried to simplify their DAISY processes in a way that would give volunteers the ability to manage the work and to minimize the costs involved. We had limited funds to make this work but did have a group of committed volunteers and some supportive experts like Lynn Leith and Didier Swartz.  I will say that without the support and knowledge sharing of the remarkable group of agencies that make up the "Canadian DAISY Consortium", none of this would have happened.  I would challenge all producers to work together to made available and known this wonderful thing called DAISY.  It really is "The Best Way to Publish and The Best Way to Read". 


Jill Bartley, Manager, cbm Canada

Dear DAISY

Dear DAISY,

Do you have any provision in other languages, i.e. Turkish? It would be interesting to see if a programme could be set up in which your services can be accessed by Turkish speakers.

Many Thanks,   
A. M. (UK)

Dear A. M.

DAISY books are produced and distributed in many languages around the world including, to name just a few, Japanese, Thai, Hindi, Danish, Norwegian, German, Chinese and Spanish. If you go to our Members and Friends  page on the DAISY site, you will find the complete list of our membership. The country in which the organizations and companies are based is given beside each entry.

You will find information about DAISY production and playback tools in our Tools Area. A number of tools, including EasePublisher and Dolphin Publisher by Dolphin and LpStudio Pro and Sigtuna DAR 3 from the DAISY Consortium, support production in languages other than English.

The DAISY Consortium is developing Obi, an open source DAISY authoring/production tool that will be available to everyone at no cost. You can get information about Obi, on SourceForge.

In terms of playback/DAISY players, AMIS has a full internationalization component and can thus be customized to any language. AMIS is a DAISY For All open source development. Information is available on the SourceForge site.