As 2007 comes to a close and we reflect upon the year, it seems that it has indeed been a remarkable one, perhaps one of the most eventful and important in the history of the DAISY Consortium. We have seen the adoption of the DAISY Standard into the International Digital Publishers Association (IDPF) Standard, the Microsoft/DAISY collaboration to develop "Save As DAISY" (see the follow up in this issue's "Dear DAISY"), incredible support and collaboration with DAISY Member organizations RNIB and NLB (see the first Feature Article), and recognition of TPB's open source efforts and the work of the DAISY Consortium in the form of the Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration (see the second Feature Article). As Bernhard Heinser, Treasurer of the DAISY Consortium, said this week, "It's a pleasure to see dreams becoming true".
The joint Techshare/DAISY Conference held in London was a great success. Our 2007 General Meeting was held in Melbourne Australia, and was extremely well attended. We were able to meet and talk with people we rarely get to meet in person. We presented and delivered the "DAISY message" at conferences and meetings around the world, and our message is being heard. Many organizations and companies have joined us in 2007, bringing new life and vigor to the Consortium.
Some of us have been involved in the "accessibility business" for a very long time, and some have also been a part of the DAISY community for many years. I believe that 2007 is a year we will not forget; 'DAISY in the mainstream' is no longer just a vision or a dream, it is on its way to becoming reality.
From everyone on the DAISY Board and all of the DAISY Staff, we wish each and every one of you a wonderful holiday season, and a peaceful, happy and healthy 2008.
The November Quiz Question was: "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.
Your responses were:
Based on your responses, we will continue to include the DAISY Planet Quiz. Suggestions are always welcome. Many thanks for your support and input.
Tim Berners-Lee was the keynote speaker at the Mellon award ceremony. He also announced and and presented each of the awards. He appears in the second photo in the article between Markus Gylling and George Kerscher of the DAISY Consortium.
Question: Which one of these accomplishments can not be attributed to Tim Berners-Lee?
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 Tool and product entries on the DAISY Web site. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.
"I feel, as a person with a disability who uses this technology, acknowledged and recognized – that's a good thing."
"Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds."
Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor
Two recent very generous grants, one from the Royal National Institute for Blind People in the United Kingdom (RNIB), and one from the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (NLB), provide financial support for collaboration among DAISY Members and Friends to advance technology for people with print disabilities.
"These grants demonstrate the generosity and collaborative spirit of DAISY Consortium Members around the globe. The commitments made by RNIB and NLB in support of DAISY projects will benefit every library and company providing services or products aimed at meeting the information and reading needs of readers who use accessible formats." said George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium.
At its October meeting in London, the DAISY Consortium Board of Directors endorsed an agreement with the RNIB to facilitate future development of DAISY production tools. The collaboration, made possible by a generous grant of US$200,000 from RNIB, will focus on two key areas: adoption of DAISY production software by commercial developers and further development of the Pipeline by integration with RNIB's production systems.
The DAISY Consortium has approached open source software development with the intention that tools can be enhanced by any company or organization under Lesser General Public License (LGPL). RNIB will facilitate a meeting of DAISY Staff and a number of DAISY Friends to discuss DAISY production tools strategy. Peter Osborne, Head of Production Services at RNIB, stated that, "It is particularly important for us to identify partners who have the ability to turn software modules in to marketable products with sufficient documentation and support to be used by a wide range of organisations with differing technical capabilities." RNIB will assess the potential "pick up" of DAISY Consortium LGPL software by DAISY Friends to identify ways in which products currently being developed by the Consortium can be enhanced.
The second focus of the RNIB grant, collaboration between expert developers from the RNIB and the DAISY Pipeline team, will benefit the global DAISY community in two ways. First, the integrated DAISY Pipeline team will produce transformers useful to all Consortium members. Second, this joint effort establishes a model for collaboration so that other organizations can work with the DAISY Pipeline team to develop transformers that meet their organization's particular needs.
The DAISY Consortium has also received a generous grant of US$50,000 from the NLB which is designated to support development of other important features of the DAISY Pipeline project. This funding will be used toward collaboration costs for a user-friendly GUI, for training and documentation for content providers, end users, and commercial developers. It will also be used to develop a Web service implementation which will serve as a guide for organizations which wish to provide online access to the DAISY Pipeline with a business model appropriate for their organization.
In awarding the grant to the DAISY Consortium, Arne Kyrkjebø said, "NLB highly values this technical development and takes advantage of the work done. With this grant, NLB wants to contribute to the common work led by the DAISY Consortium."
The DAISY Consortium thanks RNIB and NLB for their generous contributions that will benefit DAISY Members and Friends around the world, and encourages others to participate in DAISY projects. Dr. Kerscher notes, "We are now seeing our Member organizations providing funding for DAISY open source activities rather than building tools through isolated, internal developments. This is a 'win-win' situation for everyone."
Mellon Award Honors International Efforts to Improve Reading Technology for People With Print Disabilities
The Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB) was named among the 2007 winners of the Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration. The award was bestowed on TPB for its leadership in making books and other reading material accessible to people with print disabilities such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or other disabilities. Through these awards, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recognizes organizations that have made important contributions to open source projects, and that exemplify the collaborative, open source software development encouraged by the Mellon Foundation. These awards also recognize organizations that are making substantial contributions of their own resources toward these projects. "We recognized TPB because of the important role that their open source reference implementation of the DAISY standards plays in ensuring that those standards remain free and open. Their leadership in providing DAISY tools on an open source basis is exemplary of the spirit of these awards," said Mellon Associate Program Officer Christopher Mackie.
In the spirit of the award, Markus Gylling of TPB announced that the accompanying $50,000 prize will allow TPB to continue its development work with the DAISY Consortium. TPB was founded in 1980 as a result of the reorganization of services for the blind in Sweden. TPB provides DAISY Digital Talking Books, Braille, and e-text to approximately 4% of the Swedish population through the library system. In addition, TPB provides the materials that are distributed to university libraries, local public libraries, hospital libraries, and school libraries throughout Sweden. TPB is a founding member of the DAISY Consortium.
"This award brings recognition to the work done not only by TPB but by many other organizations and individuals around the globe that contribute to the DAISY open source effort," says Markus Gylling, Project Lead at TPB and International Technical Development Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium. "As we jointly move into the future, we expect to see increasing participation both from non-profit organizations and for-profit companies. The DAISY open source ecosystem has been evolving for several years now, and finally it is becoming mature."
According to Roland Esaiasson, Director of TPB, "It is of course a great honor to be recognized in this manner by the Mellon Foundation, and TPB is proud to have contributed to the development of the DAISY Consortium as a global force for the advancement of accessibility in all walks of life."
TPB's technical leadership and contributions exemplify the true spirit of open source development. Their technical resources have long supported the development of open source software which meets the needs of libraries around the world and the individuals they serve.
This award is especially timely as new developments emerge in digital publishing. The open source nature of the DAISY Consortium's work ensures that digital publications are inclusive, and are designed to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to read printed publications. The importance of DAISY Consortium member leadership and participation in this arena is essential as digital content continues to grow in popularity in all sectors.
We enjoy the DAISY Planet, but are wondering if you might include a technical "corner". It could be used to provide links to important updates, short technical information pieces or reminders about projects or deadlines, etc.
(Note from the Editorial Team - Thanks for the suggestion folks. Watch for our new 'techy' column in the January issue of the DAISY Planet. SPECIAL NOTE: Requirements gathering for the next revision of the DAISY Standard is underway to determine if changes are necessary to more effectively meet user needs. Details and the submission form are available in the Standards area of the DAISY Web site. Your input is important, please submit your requirements.)
I am an attorney who is loosing my sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and have recently started looking for technology to assist me in my practice. Consequently, I am not very familiar with what is available. I have learned a little bit about DAISY books and have recently obtained a player for DAISY books.
My goal in the work place is to be able to easily convert complex Word documents (50-100 pages) to DTBs so that I can navigate through them quickly. I understand that this new initiative between the DAISY Consortium and Microsoft will only create the XML file needed for a DTB. And that this file will then have to be processed to create the DAISY DTB. I assume by process, it is meant that the navigational marks will have to be inserted into the file and the other companion files created.
How can this processing is accomplished preferably for the DAISY/NISO (DAISY 3) DTBs? I would like to be able to insert the navigational marks into the Word document and then have the processing program pick these up and convert them.
Dear R. F.
What you have asked for from the "Save As DAISY" plug-in is in line with what we expect will happen. As the development is just beginning, we are not certain as to specific details, but possibly Word styles or a template could support identification of different types of headings, pages, etc. We expect the plug-in will create a tool bar item to facilitate the transformation of the Word file into a DAISY XML file. That very same DAISY XML file can then be transformed into a DAISY book using one of the available tools or services. The DAISY XML file is the source from which the DAISY book is created. The transformation from the DTBook or DAISY XML file, can be done automatically by one of the available conversion tools. Output will be a DAISY/NISO (DAISY 3) DTB. Information about conversion tools developed by the DAISY Consortium, its Friends and Members, is available in the Conversion Tools area of the DAISY Web site.